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Bharatiya Vidya Studies No. 2 
THE 

SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 



BY 

P. NAGARAJA RAO^ M. A. 

( Sayaji Rao Fellow, Benares Hindu University ) 



WITH A FOREWORD BY 
SIR S. RADHAKRISHNAN 




BHARATIYA VIDYA BHAVAN 
BOMBAY 



First edition, 1943. Price Rs. 2/- 



By the same author 

VadavaTi by Jayatlrtha 

edited with English 

translation and notes. 

Adyar library No. 40. 

Theosophical 

Publishing House, 

Madras. 



Printed at the Aryabhushan Press, 915/1, Shivajinagar, Poona 4 

by Mr. V. H. Barve and published by Shri Prabhashanker 

K. Bhatt, Jt. Hon. Secretary, Bharatiya Vidya 

Bhavan, 33-35, Harvey Road, Bombay 7. 



| K 



*\ 



CONTENTS 



Foreword 

Preface 

Chapter 



I. Science and Philosophy 

II. Resume of Indian Philosophy 

III. The Philosophy of Sahkara 

IV. Advaita and the New Social Order 
V. The Philosophy of Ramanuja 

VI. The Philosophy of Madhva 

VII. TheUpanisads 

VIII, The Bhagavad Gita 

IX. The Vedanta Sutras 



Index 



Page 
vii 
viii 

1 

15 

27 

59 

69 

82 

91 

105 

120 

129 



Some Publications of ihe Bhavan under Print 

( 1 ) " The Glory That Was Gurjaradesa fl The Mulraj 
Solanki Commemoration Volume. Edited by 
Shri K. M. Munshi. 

( 2 ) $%rcrcr$ ( an Apabhramsa poem ) edited by 
Acharya Jinavijayaji. 

( 3 ) sfrh^Rh STOJI ( a grammatical work in Sanskrit ) 

edited by Acharya Jinavijayaji. 

( 4 ) 3*$5!i%% ( %5RT*T fa ) edited by Acharya Jinavijayaji. 
( 5 ) fewrg^T ( a Prakrit work on Omens ) edited by 

ProifT A. S. Gopani. 
( 6 ) " Devabodha's Commentary on Udyogaparva of 

the Mahabharata " edited by Dr. S. K. De. 
( 7 ) " Epic and Puranic Studies" by Dr. A. D. Pusalker. 

(8) " The Indus Valley Civilization" by Dr. A. D. 
Pusalker. - 

(9) *TCfa &Eft by Prof. S. D. Gyani. 

(10) \$(\ (V-M (The Meeting of Religions)~transla- 
tion of Sir S. Radhakrishnan's Essays. 



(ii) 

(12) 
(13) 

(14) 
(15) 
(16) 
(17) 
(18) 
(19) 
(20) 
(21) 

(22) 



* Nos, 12-23 under the General Editorship of 
Acharya Jinavijayaji. 



FOREWORD 

In this little book Mr. P. NAGARAJA RAO puts up a 
spirited defence for the study of Philosophy. Science in 
itself cannot give us a scheme of values and each one of 
us has his own view of the ends of life though he may not 
be able to support it by a learned metaphysics. Among 
the Hindus the values are conveyed through systems o 
Philosophy which are associated with the three great 
acaryas, Sahkara, Ramanuja and Madhva. Mr. NAGA- 
RAJA RAO gives us here in simple and clear language the 
central features of the three systems. As an introduction 
to their detailed study this book will serve a valuable 
purpose. 

S. RADHAKRISHNAN 
Benares, 
25 July, 1943. 



PREFACE 

This book was prepared by me as the Say a ji Rao Fellow 
of the University. But for the liberal aid and other faci- 
lities extended to me by the Government of Baroda, it 
would not have been possible for me to have got the 
book ready for publication. I am deeply grateful to His 
Highness for graciously allowing me to dedicate the 
volume to his grand-father, the late Maharaja of Baroda. 

In the preparation of the book I have drawn freely 
from the writings and speeches of my esteemed professor 
Sir S. RADHAKRISHNAN. For the chapter on Advaita I am 
deeply indebted to my late Professor S. S. Suryanarayana 
SASTRI, Reader in Indian Philosophy, University of Madras. 
My thanks are due to Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit A. 
Chinnaswami SASTRIAR for having helped me to read the 
original texts and works on Vedanta. My thanks are also 
due to my friend Mr. N. R. BHUVARAHAN, Sub-Editor, 
Indian Express, Madras, and Dr. C. Narayana MENON of 
the English Department of the Benares Hindu University 
for having looked through the proofs and made valuable 
suggestions. I owe the index to Mr. C. G. VISVANATHAN 
of the Benares Hindu University Library. 

My special thanks are due to the authorities of the 
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for having consented to publish 
this book in these hard and difficult times. The Director 
and the staff of the Bhavan have helped me considerably in 
getting the book through the press. My thanks are also 
due to the editors of the various periodicals for permitting 
me to use the material that first appeared as articles in 
their pages ; and especially to Srimati Sophia WADIA, 
Editor of the * Aryan Path' for her help and suggestions 
in the preparation of Chapter IV. 

Benares Hindu University, \ P, NAGARAJA RAO 
10th August, 1943. J 



CHAPTER I 
Science and Philosophy 

We live in an age the intellectual environment of 
which is largely determined by science. Science in some 
manner or other has affected and influenced our world 
view. The contemporary schools of philosophical thought 
have found the sanction for their tenets in science* 
Science has come to stay as the mental diet of our age. 

When we talk of science and its impact on society, 
we have two definite and distinct contributions in view. 
Scientific ^technique has helped us to devise ways and 
means to reduce drudgery, and has knit the universe 
into a close home. It has created an interdependent 
world and showered on us manifold advantages. '* We 
can talk across continents and oceans, install television 
sets in the home, hear Big-Ben striking at North Borneo, 
make photographs speak and sing, and invent X-rays 
which are the windows through which we observe and 
snapshot our insides, roads are made of rubber, crops are 
ripened by electricity, hair is waved by electric current, 
distance melts and aeroplanes girdle the earth/' In short, 
science has revolutionised the habits of human life. 1 
* While all are agreed in praising the benefits of scien* 
tific technique, it must be recognised that the scientific 
technique is subject to one serious limitation. The 
power with which science has invested us is being used 



i RUSSELL'S Scientific Outlook, p. 9. " One hundred and fifty 
years of science have proved more explosive than five thousand 
years of pre-scientifio culture," 



2 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

for anti-social ends. 1 We ought not to be indifferent to 
the goodness and badness of ends. The power derived 
from science, like all other powers, is neutral, and its 
ethical character is determined by the end it subserves. 
The fear of the machine-civilization is not the dread of 
machinery as such, but the dread of a civilization that is 
mechanically efficient and ethically indifferent. The 
machines, which science devised to serve as means to the 
good life, have usurped the place of the ends. WJiat was 
merely a camp-follower has come into command of the 
army. The central defect of modern civilization is that 
men, instead of using machines as means to a good life, 
have forgotten the good life in their preoccupation with 
machinery. An Indian sage is credited with this acid 
comment : " You can fly in the air like birds and swim 
in the sea like fishes, but how to live together upon 
earth you have not yet learnt. 1 ' Scientific technique 
would really help mankind, only if it served socially 
useful ends. 

The second contribution of science is the scientific 
temper of mind. This temper of mind has had great 
influence on our view of ultimate Reality. The scientist 
par excellence who believes in tangible evidence, and labo- 
ratory proof, as the only methods of knowing what exists, 
does not admit the reality or value of the super-sensuous 
and the hyper-physical. He believes that the universe 
has no definite purpose or purposes at heart and does no* 
embody any plan or design. He admits only a chance, 
world governed by the law of probability. Human life 
on this planet is pointless for him. Life is merely a collo- 
cation of atoms or cells. It is a bye-product of the 



1 It i8 difficult to improve on H. G. WELLS's comment : " The 
superman made the aeroplane and the ape in man has got hold if it." 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 3 

material process. Human beings are the latest products 
In the evolutionary process. " Man is resolved into a few 
pounds of carbon, a few quarts of water, some lime, a 
little phosphorus and sulphur, a pinch of iron and silicon, 
a handful of mixed salts scattered and recombined." The 
freedom of the human will is a myth. The universe 
with man in it is definitely controlled by scientific laws. 
The mind of man is treated as an attenuated form of 
matter. The character, the cut and the colour of a man 
are determined by the relative functions of his glands. 
They hold that the disorders of the pituitary may lead 
to crime and iodine supplied to the thyroid transforms a 
cretinous idiot into a healthy child. Mechanistic physics 
and determinist psychologies affirm the faith of the unre- 
pentant scientist. To the impenitent scientist what can- 
not be weighed and measured does not exist. To him 
truth is relative, values are subjective, and morality 
is only an expediency. He believes in a rigid universe and 
hopes to give a mathematical account of everything in it. 
Modern Physics and modern Biology do still believe 
largely in a determinist universe. Purposivism, in Biology 
and indeterminism in Physics are doctrines accepted only 
by a few. Lancelot HOGBEN speaking to the British 
Association of Science, Cape Town, gives expression to 
the vision and hope of the scientist in the following 
words : " The modern mechanist does not say that love 
and heroism do not exist, but he says, Show me the be- 
haviour to which you apply the adjectives 'thoughtful 1 , 
Moving' or 'heroic' and we will one fine day endeavour to 
arrive at predictable conclusions with reference to it, 
following the only method of enquiry which we have 
learnt by experience to trust," 1 

i Lancelot HOGBEN : Dangerous Thoughts. 



4 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

The central malady of civilisation, according to the 
diagnosis of this school of scientists is the lack of 
scientific spirit or rationalism. A rationalistic approach 
to life will engender a class of men who will have the 
necessary scientific frame of mind to run the affairs of 
the universe intelligently. The need of the world is to 
rationalise our emotions. John DEWEY 1 the represen- 
tative of this view observes " It is our human intelli- 
gence and our human courage which is on trial ; 
it is incredible that men who have brought the 
technique of physical discovery, invention and use 
to such a pitch of perfection will abdicate in the 
face of the infinitely more important human problem. 
What stands in the way is a lot of outworn traditions, 
moth eaten slogans and catchwords that do substitute 
duty for thought, as well as our entrenched predatory 
self-interest. We shall only make a real beginning in 
intelligent thought when we cease mouthing platitudes..^ 
just as soon as we begin to use knowledge and skill we 
have, to control social consequences in the interest of a 
shared, abundant and secured life, we shall cease to 
complain of the backwardness of our social knowledge. " 
The solution to the world's troubles consists in psycho- 
analysing men adequately and giving them economic 
competence/ Marxism and Psycho-analysis are the 
gospels of the age. While attributing ( quite rightly > 
the evils of the world to poverty, malnutrition, foul air, 
etc., to which an unjust social order condemns a majority 
of its members, they carry on, in the interests of rationa- 
lity, a deep denigration of religion. They belittle the: 
value of religion on the ground of its inability to change 
the sorry state of things obtaining in the world. Their 



John DEWEY'S Philosophy and Civilisation, p. 329. 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 5 

road to the new world-order is active revolution, directed 
towards the re-defining of class-relationship. Hence 
they are sceptical of philosophies being derived from 
science. The distinguished director of the Cavendish 
Laboratory, the late Lord RUTHERFORD, is reported\ave 
said, 'Don't let me catch anyone talking about the 
universe in my laboratory/ That is the index of his 
hearty distrust of philosophy. 

II 

The less dogmatic variety of scientists, those who 
exhibit the scientific temper at its best, have felt shy of 
the extravagant claims of science." Bertrand RUSSELL is 
the chief spokesman of this class of scientists. Science, 
he says, should avoid the threefold defects of the ordinary 
knowledge, viz., cocksureness, self-contradictoriness and 
vagueness. Science at best enables us to give sufficiently 
probable results and not absolutely certain truths. 
Science is not final. The jurisdiction of science is limited. 
It can only tackle what is determinable in terms of 
quantity, What the scientist cannot measure, is not 
necessarily non-existent. Reality as such contains much 
more than what science can know. The intuitions of 
value, the significance of love, the irresistible attraction 
of beauty, etc., cannot be known by the methods of 
science 1 . Science has to forge new instruments to deal 
with these aspects of reality. The non-existence of 
instruments should never lead to the ignoring of those 
entities. The scientist abstracts only the mathematically 
determinable element. The scientifically indeterminable. 



i For a clear account of the effect of a religion without dogmas 
ee Bertrand RUSSELL'S article on * The essence of religion', Hibbert 
Journal, October 1912. 



6 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

elements go under the name of values ( Truth, Beauty 
and Goodness)* Values, according to the scientific 
humanist are ways of feeling. Their existence is granted 
but not their metaphysical ultimacy. 1 

The plenary purpose of science, according to the 
master scientists, is not the manipulating knowledge we 
have about a thing. Such knowledge gives us power over 
a thing and we go on perpetually meddling with it. 
Possession of power begets love of greater power. The 
power impulse is the source of corruption. u Power cor- 
rupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely", wrote 
ACTON in his epitaph on human history. " All Great 
Men " he added, " are bad". There is a way of knowing a 
thing in a manner other than the manipulative fashion. 
That method gives us the contemplative type of know- 
ledge. It - produces in us an attitude of mind, which 
gives us a feeling of ecstasy. Science, in fact, began with 
that function. The ancient bards of Greece treated 
Nature as their bride. The contemplative type of know- 
ledge gives a frame of mind which can be characterised 
as humanistic. The sober calculations of Mathematics 
and Physics drive home the limitations under which the 
human being has to live in this world. The human 
being knows very well that the stamp of mortality is 
set on everything human. Still he feels that man, 
though an " impotent crawling creature in this petty 
planet " is still free in the field of thought to create and 
cherish ideals. It is out of this vision and freedom that 
man has created the world of art, literature and science* 
This is what RUSSELL characterises as the Free-man* 
worship. Human life is something definite which has to> 
be lived in the light of these values. GALSWORTHY gives 

* RUSSELL'S Scientific Outlook, cb. XVII : 'Science and Values'* 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 7 

expression to this view of life in the following telling 
words : " In this incomprehensible world full of the 
savage and the stupid and the suffering, with monstr* 
ous contrasts and the most queer happenings, we ought 
not to fly to another world for compensation. We 
should never lose even in tragedy that unconscious rap- 
ture and pre-possession with that entrancing occupation 
which we call life. " We must say " Sufficient unto the 
earth is the beauty and the meaning thereof". 

The conclusion that the mere increase of scientific 
knowledge is not enough for progress is accepted by 
many scientists. The increase in knowledge must go 
together with wisdom. Wisdom (jnana) is the right 
conception of the ends of life. Science no doubt is a very 
important and necessary ingredient that promotes the 
progress of civilisation. As an ingredient of civilisation 
it is good, as the sole driving force it is disastrous. The 
scientific outlook is admirable when kept within limits. 
It should not be allowed to thwart the major impulses 
of man which give value to life. 

Ill 

A great many European Philosophers of today have 
directed their attention to the study of the philosophy 
of values. A considerable part of modern literature on 
philosophy is an enquiry into the metaphysical status 
and import of the three great traditional values : Truth, 
Beauty and Goodness. 1 

These value-philosophies point out the serious 
limitations of science and hold the view that science tells 
us u little about some things, and there is nothing about 



1 N. HARTM ANN'S three volumes on Ethics is the most subs tan* 
fcial contribution made to the study of values in recent years. 



8 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

which it tells everything". The immeasurable and the 
indeterminable in reality are not tackled by science. 
It cannot explain the nature of the human mind. 
Human mind is purposive and science deals only with 
mechanistic causation. It has no use for teleology. 
Science cannot provide reasons for the " why " of pheno- 
mena. It, in short, describes and does not explain. 
Explanation implies purpose. Purpose has ceased to be a 
scientific concept. The very presupposition of science is 
the mechanical mode of treating factors. It proceeds on 
the assumption that every event is mechanically caused by 
the preceding events or set of events. It cannot counten- 
ance the arbitrary introduction of purpose and goal. The 
scientific scheme is defective, because it leaves out of 
account Mind and Values. 

Any attempt at an interpretation of Reality must be 
in terms of principles other than nature. Prof. A. N. 
WHITEHEAD, has pointed out conclusively the defects of 
a total scientific interpretation of Reality. He states that 
the notion of force or stress as something which operates 
between bodies is fundamental in the scheme of Newton- 
ian Physics. For example the Newtonian scheme does 
not tell us why there should be stress, or why force 
should operate. The motion of bodies, Newton pointed, 
is governed by certain laws such as the law of gravita- 
tion. The motion may not be arbitrary but the laws that 
govern them are arbitrary. There is nothing to account 
why they should be what they are and not otherwise. 
These facts point out that a few bits of matter moving 
in space cannot furnish reason for their existence. The 
central defect of science, stated in the words of WHITE- 
HEAD is that " Newton in discovering the laws which 
governed the movements of matter, while leaving the 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 9 

laws themselves as arbitrary, unexplained facts, illustrat- 
ed a great philosophical truth that a dead Nature can 
give no reason. All ultimate reasons are in terms of aim 
at Value ".* 

Further, WHITEHEAD holds that the scientific 
scheme excludes purpose and values ; so it is not able to 
.give a full and clear explanation of Reality. 

The logical principles, of science such as, induction, 
the Law of Contradiction, and other mathematical 
principles have to be explained in terms other than 
scientific categories. Sense perception does not provide 
the data for their interpretation. This necessitates the 
assumption of values and mind. 2 

The limitations of science and its methods have led 
to the re-interpretation of Reality. Reality for the value- 
philosophers consists not only of objects that are known 
through the methods of science but also of objects that 
are intuited. The intuited objects are values. They are 
Truth, Beauty and Goodness. They are upheld as ulti- 
mate and not instrumental. They are objective and not 
subjective. They are aspects of Reality, that have to be 
intuited. Plato described them as Forms. Scientific 
methods do not help us to intuit them. 

The contemporary mood is expressing itself in the 
denial of values. Values are denounced as figments of 
our imagination. Truth along with other values is 
treated as a subjective hallucination. Their reality is re- 
futed because they are not visible and tangible. The 
moral value, Good, is explained in terms of convenience, 
utility and pleasurable sensation. The relativists hold 



1 A. K. WHITEHEAD'S Modes of Thought, pp. 183-185, 

2 Prof. C. E. M. JOAD's Philosophy for our times, Chapter IV, V 
and VI. 



10 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

with Hamlet that there is nothing good or bad but think- 
ing makes it so. Beauty is explained as a matter of taste. 
The idea of God in religion is interpreted as a hope 
created by man to mitigate his loneliness. HUXLEY 
once called God " a sensation in the pit of the stomach 
hyposatisfied". 

Such a subjectivist account of values is neither cor- 
rect nor socially helpful. The doubting and discrediting 
of values is symptomatic of the decay of civilization. 
Those who believe in the existence of values have taken 
great pains to establish the objective and intrinsic nature 
of values. The proof for the existence of the objectivity 
of values is not conclusive. But the dangers of subjecti- 
vism are a legion, " The statement or the truth, if we call 
it such, that all truths are subjective is itself subjective.'* 
The mere presence of the enormous diversity of opinions 
about the beauty of a picture is regarded by some as an 
argument in favour of the subjective view. It is not so. 
Everybody does differentiate between a good and a better 
picture, Further it is absurd to assess beauty by count- 
ing heads. Why should beauty, as a quality belonging 
to a thing be denied, when other qualities like weight, 
volume etc. are not denied ? Why should this quality 
alone be a projection of the human mind, and why should 
the others inhere in the objects ? The subjectivist view 
of values logically leads to solipsism. Inter-subjective 
intercourse is enough evidence against solipsism. Soli- 
psism suggests that we know only our own mental 
states, a conclusion revolting to commonsense. These 
facts point out that the values, Truth, Beauty and Good- 
ness are intrinsic and are not the projections of the 
human wishes. They are an aspect of Reality. Their 
value is intrinsic and not instrumental. The poet-philo* 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 11 

sopher, Wordsworth has condemned the prosaic or 
scientific attempt to analyse Beauty : " Our meddling 
intellect misshapes the beauteous forms of things ; we 
murder to dissect". 1 

Goodness the chief moral value, is explained in terms 
of social approval and individual expediency. The Good 
is not an instrumental value as it is mistaken to be* 
There are no doubt a great many values that are instru- 
mental, such as, health, wealth and power. 

The chief bar to the acceptance of the ultimate 
nature of the values is Hedonism. Hedonism holds the 
view that the only value man pursues is pleasure. 
Pleasure in some form or other is the main-spring of 
human activity. Men seek pleasure sometimes with a 
long-term view. That is why they sacrifice the imme* 
diate pleasures and put up with a little discomfort for 
a time. The apparent altruistic activities and martyr- 
doms are interpreted in this light by the Hedonists. 

John Stuart MILL introduced some refinement in the 
doctrine of Hedonism. He introduced differences in the 
qualities of pleasure. He said it is better to be a human 
being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. 

Before establishing the ultimate nature of values one 
has necessarily to refute the hedonist doctrine in its 
various forms. 2 If hedonism is valid, the ultimate value 
will be pleasure. No direct disproof of this doctrine is 
possible, but a little introspection would show the 
weakness of this position. 3 We do not always act after 



1 Prof. C. E. M. JOAD's Return to Philosophy, Chap. III. 

2 Prof. C. E. M. JOAD'S Philosophy for our Times, Chap. XI. 

a See Katha Upanisad, Chap. II, vv. 1 and 2. Pleasure cannot, 
gratify us, because the appetite grows with what it feeds. First we 
take to indulgence to get pleasure. Later on we take to it to allay 
the craving and hankering. Hence the Upanisadic advice to choose 
Sreyas and not Preijas. 



12 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

"balancing the results of the alternative courses of action 
in terms of pleasure. We most often act on impulse. 
Further we desire specific ends other than pleasure. 
Pleasure results as a consequence. The Hedonist theory 
puts the cart before the horse. We desire other specific 
things and pleasure accrues later on. Pleasure or happi- 
ness is a by-product. It is not an end pursued directly. The 
qualitative element introduced by MILL is ambiguous. 
What is a high quality pleasure? Certainly it is * not 
more intense pleasure, because such a position would 
only be equivalent to greater quantity of pleasure. The 
distinction sought to be maintained disappears. The 
word " high " introduces some standard other than 
pleasure. Happiness, in the words of Aldous HUXLEY, is 
like coke, something you get as a by-product in the process 
of making something else. Aristotle defined happiness 
as the bloom on the cheek of a young man. Happiness 
will elude you, if you seek it. "It is like a flower that 
surprises you, a song which you hear as you pass the 
hedge, rising suddenly. " 

Once pleasure is proved to be a by-product and not 
an ultimate value, the traditional values, Truth, Beauty 
and Goodness, emerge as intrinsic, objective and ultimate. 
These values are said to be many by the modern pluralist 
philosophers. The intuition of these values is said to 
result in a state of mind which is held to be the ideal of 
human life. 1 

Christianity in the West and the theistic schools of 
Vedanta in India have regarded the deity as the greatest 
value. In the deity the traditional values are said to be 



1 For a clear account of the objectivity and ultimate nature of 
values, see Prof, JOAD'S Philosophical interpretation of Modern Science, 
Chap. X. 



SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 15 

concretised. According to Ramanuja, the greatest 
theologian of India, "The Lord is the abode of an infinite 
number of auspicious attributes" and fellowship with him 
(moksa) is the supreme value of life. 

Sahkaradvaita in the East and Absolutism in the 
West hold that the supreme value is Brahman. The 
conscious realisation of the true nature of the self, which, 
is apparently individualised into different centres on 
account of the functioning of nescience (maya) is the 
supreme value of life. Modern Philosophically-minded 
scientists have found that science has led them to the 
realisation and affirmed the existence of this great value, 
i. e. Brahman experience. Prof. EDDINGTON holds the 
view that Physics gives us knowledge, not of things ia 
themselves but of the responses which are made to things 
by various measuring machines. The subject-matter of 
exact science consists of pointer-readings and similar 
indications. The scientific picture of the universe does 
not conform to the objects in the external world. The 
world-picture depicted by Physics is a world of symbols. 
"Science has nothing to say about the intrinsic nature of 
the atom. The atom like everything else is a 'schedule 
of pointer-readings 1 . 11 The real background is the spiritual 
substratum 1 . The knowledge that science gives us about 
the external world is the result of the interpretation of 
the human mind of the data received through the senses. 
There is an element of construction. Science gives us 
a knowledge of the external world, as construed and con- 
structed by the human mind. EDDINGTON says that the 
scientific view of the world is a type of selective-subject- 
ivist view. These serious limitations do not warrant the 
dogmatic assertion of the realist philosopher that the, 

* A. N. WHITEHEAD Science and the Modern World, pp. 68-69. 



14 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

external world is objectively real. It is the efficiency of 
the human mind that is responsible for the picture of the 
external world described by the scientists. Prof. A. N. 
WHITEHEAD writes "Nature gets credit, which should, 
in truth, be reserved for ourselves, the rose for its scent, 
the nightingale for its song and the sun for its radiance. 
The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address 
their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes 
x>f self-congratulation on the excellence of the human 
mind/' 1 The Advaita Philosophy of Sahkara does not 
merely stop with the plurality of selves but tries to 
explain the plurality as due to the cosmic delusion (maya) 
and transcends the limitations of an "affirmative theology. 1 ' 
It sees the greatest value in the one Brahman without 
a second. It is the value of values and the truth of 
truths. It is the secondless entity. It is existence, 
knowledge and bliss. 

To the Hindu the metaphysical values are conveyed 
through systems of Philosophy which are associated with 
the three great acaryas Sahkara, Rainanuja and Madhva. 



1 For a complete exposition of EDDINGTON'S views see his The 
Nature of Physical World, and for his systematic theory, see The 
Philosophy of Physical Science. 



CHAPTER II 
Resume of Indian Philosophy 

The great contribution of India to world thought 
is its philosophy and religion, the twin-passions of the 
Hindu mind. For over a period of four thousand years, 
unaffected by any outside influence, the ancient Indian 
seers developed their speculative powers and erected 
different systems of philosophy. The study of the rich 
intellectual and spiritual heritage they have left us will 
greatly help us in confronting and negotiating the 
difficulties we are up against in the present crisis 
of our civilisation. The study of the spiritual adven- 
ture of the prophets of Egypt, sages of China and seers 
of India is not in any sense less important than that of 
Isaiah, Paul, Socrates and Spinoza. The neglect of such 
a rich heritage, in the words of Prof. RADHAKRISHNAN 
is an academic error and failure of perspective. 1 The 
literature on Indian philosophy is vast and complex. It 
ranges from irritatingly brief aphorisms to elaborate 
dialectics. 

Indian philosophical thought can be classified into 
different systems. Besides the six systems of philosophy 
{ Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sahkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Ved- 
anta ) which go under the name of darsanas, there are 
other systems for example Buddhism, Jainism, and Mater- 
ialism ( lokayata school known also as, Carvaka darsa- 
nas ). Most of the systems have grown and developed 
on different lines at the hands of the various philoso- 

i RADHAKRISHNAN's Eastern Religions and Western Thought, p. 20. 



16 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

pheis. Buddhism developed into four different lines and 
Vedanta into three. The very enumeration of the names 
of the systems and their several ramifications point 
to the rich and diverse nature of Indian philosophic 
thought. Max MULLER observes, 1 " If I were asked under 
what sky the human mind has most fully developed some 
of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the 
greatest problems of life, and found solution of some of 
them, which will deserve the attention of even those who 

studied Plato and Kant I should point to India 

They are the makers of marvellous mythologies, the in- 
ventors of the most subtle philosophy and the givers of 
the most elaborate laws." 

In this introductory essay to the study of the systems 
of Indian philosophy, we have to take note of the general 
characteristics underlying the different systems. Philo- 
sophy in general is an intellectual construction of Rea- 
lity. Man does not rest satisfied until he gets a clear 
and a definite view of the Universe in which he lives 
and his place in it. He weaves different theories about 
it, some comforting him and others explaining his help- 
lessness. To philosophise is the very nature of man. "It is 
only animals that are not metaphysical ", said HEGEL. 
The different philosophical systems of the West, aim at 
explaining Reality after the logical manner. They make 
magnificent intellectual efforts to map out Reality and 
give us a neat theory of it. Their quest is for a compre- 
hensive and non-contradictory account of Reality. Un- 
like the scientist who studies only that fragment of 
Reality which is quantitatively determinable and 
practically useful, the philosopher studies the entire 
Reality. The Philosopher does not seek comfort and 
security but Truth. F. H. BRADLEY observes that the 

1 Max MULLER'S essay What India can teach. 



RESUME OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 17 

search for. Truth is a necessity of their ( philosophers 1 ) 
nature. In philosophy we must not seek for absolute 

satisfaction It is the exercise and enjoyment 

of but one side of our nature. 1 We do not stop 
short of Truth. Truth is an intrinsic value. Intellec- 
tual satisfaction helps us to get over this discomfort. 
Modern attempts at system building are examples 
of the triumph of the speculative in man. The phi- 
losophical systems of WHITEHEAD, ALEXANDER and 
McTAGGART are instances of the daring expressions of 
the philosophical spirit and dialectical skill. Philosophy 
according to them is only concerned with the task of 
revealing Truth. It has nothing to do with the salvation 
of man. Prof. R. G. COLLINGWOOD, in his autobiography 
tells us that " the Oxford Philosophers were proud to 
have excogitated a philosophy, so pure from the sordid 
taint of utility, that they could lay their hands on their 
heart and say it was of no use at all -philosophy so scienti- 
fic that no one whose life was not a life of pure research 
could appreciate it and so abstruse that only a whole- 
time student and a clever man at that could understand 
it. They were quite resigned to the contempt of fools 
and amateurs." In Prof. HOGBENS's words, they turn out 
to be a tribe of elegantly useless men whose efficiency 
consists in the verbal clarity of obscure discoveries. They 
believed, unlike NEWMAN, that we can save our souls 
by smart syllogisms. 

The Indian philosophical systems, though they soar 
to great metaphysical heights and exhibit power of argu- 
mentation, are not still to be construed as the results of 
the logical in man. They are not attempts, primarily to 
satisfy the rational curiosity of man. They hold that all 

i F, H. BRADLEY, Essays on Truth and Reality, p, 13, 



18 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

values Truth, Beauty and Goodness are instrumental and 
not intrinsic. To them philosophy is a science of the 
soul ( atmavidya ), Salvation is the value of values, all 
other values are subordinate to it. 1 Philosophy to them 
is a way of life and not a view of life. It helps men to 
terminate the misery in life. 2 It originated under the 
pressure of a practical need arising from the presence of 
moral and physical evils in this life. An escape from it 
is possible only through a science of Reality. Philosophy 
is the science which teaches us the means of vanquishing 
suffering once and for all. 3 Physical disease can be cured 
by medicine, strong cocktail can calm our nerves, a love 
affair might drive off our depression, enemies can be 
circumvented by diplomacy, poverty can be cured by 
making a packet of money and spirits can be won over 
by charms. But all these remedies are shortlived and 
double-edged. We cannot prevent the recurrence of 
the troubles once for all. It is an attempt to seek some- 
thing permanent and avoid the flux of births and deaths. 
It helps us not merely to reveal Truth but increases vir- 
tue. It awakens our loyalties. It extends our minds 
and taps our energies and helps us to realise the vision 
of God. Hence philosophy is pragmatic. It is a saving- 
knowledge and not subtle metaphysics. It is the prac- 
tical aim of philosophy that is responsible for the blend 
of the religious and philosophical in Indian systems. The 
great Truths of religion in the last analysis are realised 
through the strength of our entire being. A rational ex- 
planation of the ultimate religious ideals is attempted in 

1 See Apastamba Sutras I, 22, 2, 'atma labhat na param vidyate*. 

2 See Chandogya, Chap. 7, 1, 3, 'tarati sokam atma vit: 

8 When PLOTINUS was asked 'What is philosophy ?' he answered, 
'what matters most'. 



RESUME OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 19 

philosophy. The religious ideal is not treated merely as 
a " facile intuition based on scriptural declaration " in- 
demonstrable in terms of logical moulds. Nor have they 
made the unscientific effort to explain everything in 
terms of reason and measurement. They have combined 
in a judicious manner, faith as well as reason. They have 
brought to bear an " attitude of trust tempered by criti- 
cism ". They have not accepted all that is in scriptures ; 
only the purportful part is accepted. Nor have they held 
that " what science cannot teach mankind cannot learn 11 . 1 
The attitude of criticism is not silenced but is kept in 
limits. They have marked out clearly the different 
41 universes of discourse ". 

The Indian systems never forgot the necessity of 
changing the unregenerate man and his ways in order to 
enable him to realise the religious ideal Religion accord- 
ing to them is " a system of education by means of which 
human beings must train themselves, first to make desir- 
able changes in their own personalities ". Every system 
lays down a suitable course of practical discipline for the 
attainment of liberation. Good life is the prerequisite of 
godly life. Most systems with the exception of material- 
ism hold the view that human beings in their unregene- 
rate form cannot attain liberation. The common disci- 
pline prescribed is detachment. Most men and women 
love above all the pleasures of a life of mental indolence, 
they are torn by passions and weakened by distractions. 
The yoga system of Patanjali gives an elaborate account 
of the ways and means of getting over distractions. Dis- 
traction cuts us away from the pursuit of the goal. It is 
the imbecile aspect in men that is responsible for dis- 
tractions. It is again distractions and passion that make 

1 Bertrand RUSSELL, Science and Religion, p, 243. 



20 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

us fly into popular political movements, go mountain; 
climbing or big game hunting. Goodness involves one 
pointedness. To act in a perfectly ethical way we need 
detachment. Disinterestedness helps us to break our 
unregenerate self-hood. 4 * This self-hood ( ahamkara > 
constitutes the most heavy and hardly translucent subs- 
tance which cuts off most of the light of Reality and 
distorts what little it permits to pass 'V The Indian 
systems hold that renunciation is essential. They insist 
on training and regulating the natural instincts of men. 
For a spiritual life there is no aid but perpetual vigilance. 
We must be sentinels for ever on guard against the 
stratagems of Satan. 

The doctrine of detachment has taken two lines of 
development. Some have laid great stress on the negative 
aspect of renunciation, hence they have advocated the 
giving up of all worldly activities. This represents the 
absolute samnyasiris ideal, involving the cessation of all 
activities. 

But with the advance of time specially in the Gita the 
negative aspect of renunciation is interpreted afresh. 2 It 
is not the giving up of all activities, but the performance 
of all in a spirit of detachment from the things of the 
world and attachment to God. It is not world-renuncia- 
tion that samnyasa advocates but the renunciation of the 
sense of agency and the fruit of actions. The detachment 
taught by the Glta is not stoicism for it involves attach- 
ment to God. The G~ita insists on a life of activity per- 
formed as an offering to God devoid of the sense of 
agency and the desire for the fruit. It is this positive 
ideal of samnyasa that has informed the doctrines of all 



1 A. HUXLEY, Grey Eminence, p. 55-59. 

2 Gita, Chap. Ill, v, 4, Chap, XVIII, vv, 2 and 7, 



RESUME OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 21 

the modern Hindu thinkers like Mahatma GANDHI, 
TAGORE, RADHAKRISHNAN, Sri AUROBINDO and 
Dayananda SARASVATI. It is this aspect of the Gita that 
is responsible for the active social ethics of the Hindus. 

The six systems of Indian philosophy have some ideas 
in common. All of them are agreed in postulating a 
definite philosophical ideal to be realised by man. 
Attainment of that ideal is moksa. The concept of 
moksa ( liberation ) differs from system to system. But 
they are all agreed in pointing out that the liberated soul 
is free from suffering, mental and physical. Further, the 
liberated souls are free from births and deaths. 

Every system lays down a definite course of discipline 
as necessary for the attainment of moksa. The discipline 
recognises, the need for the cultivation of virtues, social 
and individual, active disinterested service to society, 
and uninterrupted, singular, and complete devotion and 
surrender to God. Some systems like the Vaisesika, 
Sahkhya and Mimamsa are frankly atheistic, and do 
without the grace of the Lord. 1 They believe that salva- 
tion is the recovery by the soul of its natural integrity. 
The recovery is effected by an unremitting moral life, 
and not by divine grace. The Nyaya and the Vedanta 
believe in the existence of God and the need of His grace 
for salvation. The Yoga system suggests devotion to 
God, as an alternative method, to attain moksa along 
with the practice of Yoga. 

The systems in general accept not less than three 
instruments of knowledge perception, inference, and 
verbal testimony. Most of them have given the place 
of primacy to scripture. All of them have developed 



* Kum5rila's school does not admit the existence of God. 
PrabhSkara admits the existence not only of God but gods. 



22 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

their own individual theories of kno wledge. Each system 
has discussed the meaning of the term knowledge and 
the ways of attaining it. They have formulated the 
criteria of validity and invalidity of knowledge. They 
have left no problem of epistemology undiscussed. Most 
systems to the present day use the logical terminology 
forged by the Nyaya system. 

AH the systems believe that the universe is a cosmos,, 
but not a chaos. They postulate a central moral purpose 
as governing the universe. The universe is a moral 
order. There is a point in human life and purpose in the 
heart of the universe. The good that we do in this life 
is not without its reward. The evil takes its due toll 
from man. The universe is law abiding to the core. 
Moral life has its own purpose. As a corollary to this 
the systems postulate rebirth as well as pre-existence. 1 
They subscribe to the inevitable law of karma. Karma 
points out that the individual is responsible for his acts 
and not a mysterious fate. The conditions of life are 
determined but not the will of the agent. The law of 
Karma applies to the conditions that are being determined 
and not to the agent. Most systems believe in a heaven 



i The Late Prof. G. Lowes DICKINSON observes : 
Human optimism is doomed, unless we believe that there is 
more significance in individual lives than appears on the surface, that 
there is a destiny reserved for them more august than that which they 
can attain in their life of three score years and ten. Nobody could 
hold that life on this earth is so transcendentally good that it 
deserves in itself, without reference to anything beyond to be- 
supported and perpetuated with delight. It may be held by a few 
fortunate and unimaginative souls, but it will not commend itself to- 
the enlightened understanding. Too few of us surely attain the good 
even of which we are capable, too many are capable of too little; 
and all are capable for a short time. 



RESUME OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 23 

and a hell where the individual soul gets his rewards 
and punishments. 

Some systems, notably the Vedanta, envisage the 
possibility of liberation ( moksa ) in this very life (jivan 
mukti). Such a concept has been possible for the 
Advaita-vedantin because of his unique conception 
of moksa. The realisation of the true nature of one's 
own self is moksa. According to Sahkara, the individual 
soul deludes itself into the belief that it is a separate 
existing entity with manifold limitations, on account 
of the functioning of maya. Maya is that delusion 
which is responsible for the feeling of individual plural 
selves. With the knowledge, that in reality the indivi- 
dual soul is non-different from Brahman, this separa- 
tist delusion is destroyed and the soul realises that it is 
not the limited empirical self but Brahman. The prime 
cause of this realisation is knowledge and not the path 
of karma. 

The different systems of Indian philosophy can be 
construed as steps leading to the philosophy of Vedanta. 
Vedanta in some form or other is the living religion of 
the Hindus. The view that the various systems repre- 
sent a hierarchy leading to Vedanta secures the synoptic 
view. Such a view goes against the relative independ- 
ence of the different systems. Every system states 
in extenso the positions of the rival schools and refutes 
them elaborately. Each of them has a long line of 
development explaining the different doctrines of the 
systems. 

Of the six, the Nyaya and Vaisesika go together. 
They represent the pluralistic and realistic phase of 
Indian philosophic thought. The great contribution of 
the Nyaya system is its elaborate organon of critical and 



24 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

scientific investigation. All the problems pertaining to 
the theory of knowledge have been stated with remark- 
able clarity in an analytical fashion. 1 The several instru- 
ments of knowledge ( pramanas ) together with the 
possible pitfalls and fallacies have been set forth in a lucid 
manner. The Nyaya scheme of categories has supplied 
the Indian thinkers, through centuries, with the means 
of discriminating, quickly and surely the true from the 
false inferences. Traditional students of Indian philo- 
sophy hold that the study of the Nyaya system is indis- 
pensable to the study of all the other systems. On the 
philosophical side the school admits the existence of 
Matter, a plurality of souls, and God. All of them are 
co-existent. A thorough knowledge of the sixteen 
categories of the Nyaya system together with an unremit- 
ting moral life secures salvation for the soul. God in the 
Nyaya system is established through the aid of inference 2 
and the scriptures are defended as valid because 
they are the written words of the Lord. Matter 
in its ultimate form i. e. atoms, is the material and 
God the efficient cause of the universe. Liberation 
consists in the attainment of an unperturbed equipoise 
free from delights and sorrows. The stoic nature of 
the liberated soul is inert like a stone. 

The Vaisesika system is more a physicist's than a 
metaphysician's account of Reality. Reality is construed 
as coming under eight categories. The study of the 
eight categories and the constituents of the universe 
constitutes the chief doctrines of the system. 3 The atomic 

1 See S. C. CHATTERJEE's Nyaya Theory of Knowledge and Mm . 
S. Kuppuswarai SASTRl's A Primer of Indian Logic. 

2 See Udayana's Nyaya Kusumanjali. 

3 See A. B. KEITH's Indian Logic and Atomism; J. C. CHATTERJl's 
Hindu Realism. 



RESUME OF INDIAN PHILOSOPHY 25 

theory of the Vaisesikas is the first scientific account of 
Matter we come across. Early Vaisesikas do not admit 
the existence of God. They are more analytical and 
scientific than philosophical. They represent the radical 
pluralistic element in Indian thought. They stress the 
many in the one. 

The Sahkhya is the most artistic of the systems. 
They postulate a plurality of souls and an inert, undifter- 
-entiated Matter ( prakrti ). They were the first to dis- 
cover that movement, life and intelligent action are not 
the results of the mechanical processes of Prakrti. They 
postulated evolution as resulting from the identification 
of the soul with Matter. The entire Universe is treated 
as the result of the evolution of Prakrti. Twenty- 
three evolutes are recounted. The sorrows of men are 
attributed to the erroneous identification of the Purusa 
{ soul ) with the workings of Prakrti (Matter) The discri- 
minative knowledge that Prakrti ( Matter ). alone evolves 
and that Purusa is like the lotus untouched by water, 
brings about salvation. Right knowledge is the means 
to liberation. The system finds no necessity for accepting 
God. The liberated soul is free from sorrows. The 
sahkhya system represents the dualistic phase of Indian 
thought. 1 

The yoga system of Patanjali accepts the metaphysics 
of the Sahkhya system and its ideal. The discriminatory 
knowledge of purusa and prakrti, Patanjali holds, can be 
secured by the practice of the eightfold system of yoga. 
It consists in the cultivation of virtues, physical and 
mental. Practice in the exercise of the control of breath 
and withdrawal from sense objects lead to constant, 



i See Prof. S. 8. SASTRl's translation of Sahkhya Karika (3rd 
edition.) 



26 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

uninterrupted meditation. Yogic experience is the final 
illumination of the philosophic truth. As an alternative 
to Yoga, devotion to Lord also is indicated. God in the 
Yoga system is only a perfected human being. He is not 
the creator and sustainer of the Universe. The great 
lesson of Yoga to our distracted and war-shattered world 
is the lesson of the value of peace. Yoga points out that 
there are a great many faculties in man to which he can 
have access provided he makes the effort. Extraordinary 
powers of certain individuals for clairvoyance and tele- 
pathy are not anything external to man. They are the 
unawakened faculties in each of us. Yoga helps us 
to exploit and explore the great psychical capacities 
of men. 1 

The Mimamsa system of Jaimini is the most elaborate 
of the systems. It represents the school of ethical idea- 
lism. It does not find a.Qy necessity for accepting God. 
To the Mimamsakas revealed scripture is eternal and not 
composed by any being. They believe that the universe 
is a moral order completely determined and governed by 
the vedic deities. Every act is said to produce merit, if it 
is good, and demerit if it is bad. The several acts of men 
create an unseen potency called adrsta, which rewards 
men with heaven and punishes them with hell. They 
hold that life is governed by action and reaction. This 
system is highly utilitarian and is based on the theory of 
rewards and punishments. 2 



i See Miss G. COSTER'S Yoga and Western Psychology and 
Prof. S. N. DASGUPTA's The study of Patanjali Yoga Philosophy 
and Religion. 

* For a comprehensive account .of the system see Sir Ganganath 
JHA'S Posthumous work Purva Mimamsa edited by Sir S. RADHA- 
, Vol. I of the Library of Indian Philosophy and Religion. 



CHAPTER III 
The Philosophy of Sahkara 

What is living and vital in Indian Philosophy to-day 
is the vedanta system. The other systems of Philosophy 
are mainly read as accessories to the study of the vedanta. 
The term vedanta means the concluding portions of the 
vedas. lEach veda is divided into three distinct parts. 
The mantras are the invocatory hymns addressed to the 
several deities presiding over the elements of nature, e. g., 
Agni, Vayu, etc.; the brohmanas the treatises that pre- 
scribe in detail the mode of performing sacrifices, the 
arrangement of the objects used in the sacrifices and 
their description. The Upanisads are the metaphysical 
speculations embodying the vital truths of the vedas. 
They are the spiritual treasures of India. 

The most reputed ^school of the Vedanta is the* 
advaita popularised by Sahkara. The school of Vedanta 
elaborated by Sahkara has influenced world thought to a 
considerable extent. " The German renaissance repre- 
sented by SCHOPENHAUER, HARTMANN and NIETZSCHE,, 
the American renaissance represented by EMERSON, 
and Walt WHITMAN, the Irish renaissance in the persons, 
of W. B. YEATES, G, W. RUSSELL and George MOORE,, 
have been definitely influenced by Sahkara's thought ". 
Sahkara in the words of S. RADHAKRISHNAN has com- 
bined the positive aspect of the Upanisadic teaching 
with the negative logic of the Buddhists. This 
metaphysical system is artistic in its structure and 
irrefutable in its logic. In accordance with tradition,, 
Sahkara has relied for the doctrines of his system on the 
triple texts, the Gita, the Vedanta Sutras and the 

27 



28 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Upanisads. He points out that the central purport of 
the triple text is the non-difference of the individual soul 
from Brahman. 

The greatest work of Sahkara is the celebrated 
commentary on the vedanta sutras. Tradition reports, 
and from the several accounts of the life of Sahkara we 
gather, that he finished writing all his works before he 
was hardly thirty. The commentary is at once a philoso- 
phical classic and a piece of great literature. His comment- 
aries on the Brhadaranyaka and Ckdndogya Upanisads 
discuss in detail many an important doctrine of advaita. 

The doctrines enunciated by Sahkara in his commen- 
tary have been elaborately commented on by a ^ost of 
post-Sahkara scholars. Some of the doctrines of Sahkara 
have been defended in extenso and others amplified. Cri- 
tics have found fault with the Hindu habit of writing 
commentaries and sub-commentaries on the ground that 
it has not contributed to the development of original 
thought. Such a criticism is unwarranted and opposed 
to facts. " No one who reads the lengthy discussions of 
the nature and function of psychosis, or the dialectics of 
difference or the inferential establishment of nescience 
(maya) will continue to believe that there has been no 
progress in the development of Hindu thought." Post- 
Sahkara dialecticians with an unswerving loyalty to their 
master have established beyond dispute, the manifold 
doctrines of advaita. A close study of the advaita 
dialectics will lead us to the clear conclusion that advaita 
is not a " facile intuition based on scriptural declarations 
.and mystical experiences, but a cogent intellectual 
.system". 

Before Sahkara there were two great advaita tea- 
chers Gau4apada and Mamjana. The advaita system is 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 29 

found in -some form in Gaudapada's Karikas on the Maru 
dukya Upanisad. Sahkara has commented on Gaiulapa- 
da's work. 

Mandana has worked out a system of advaita in his 
Brahma Siddhi. 1 He is considered by some scholars to be 
an elder contemporary of Sahkara. He has contributed a 
|reat deal to advaita dialectics. Many a commentator of 
Sahkara has drawn heavily on Mancjana. 

II 

The advent of Sahkara is a landmark in the history 
of Indian Philosophic thought. In him it attains^ great 
heights. Of all the systems of Indian Philosophy Sahka- 
ra's is the most logical. Once we grant the postulates of 
the system there is nothing to grumble at or resent in the 
detailed exposition of the doctrines of the system. 

Sahkara throughout his exposition sought to refute 
two positions : (a) the sahkhyan doctrine of transform- 
ation ( parinamavada ) and (b) the Mimaiiisa doctrine ot 
ritualism. The Sahkhyas are of opinion that the Upa- 
nisads countenance a dualistic metaphysics, of spirits 
(purusas) on one side, and matter (prakrti) on the other. 
The Mimamsakas are of opinion that the essential teach- 
ing of the veda is contained in the brahmanas and not in 
the upanisads. They uphold the doctrine that salvation 
through ceremonial acts is the central purport of the 
vedas. They further point out that the self spoken of in 
the Upanisads refers to the performer of the rites and 
ceremonies. Action ( karma ) and not Brahman f is the 
quintessence of the Upanisads. 2 

1 See S. Kuppuswami SASTBI'S, Introduction to his edition of 
Brahma Siddhi. 

2 s'ahkara's commentary on the Vedanta Sutras, 1, 1, 3 and 4 . 



30 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Sahkara has criticised in extenso the Mimamsa posi- 
tion. He points out that the brahmanas and the Upanisads 
refer to two entirely distinct aspects. The Upanisads are 
the most important and purportful part of the vedas. 
The purport of the Upanisads is not karma but Brahman, 
They point out to us the mode of realising the self which 
is Brahman. The brahmanas and the mantras are second- 
ary in their significance. They are not organically and 
directly connected with the theme of the Upanisads. 
The Purva mimamsa has nothing to do with the V tiara 
mimamsa. Ceremonial purity and ethical excellence may 
at best help the spiritual aspirant but will not directly 
result in self-realisation. They are not the substitutes 
for Brahman. Brahman can only be realised by jnana i. e. 
by Brahman-intuition (saksatkara) but not by mere in- 
tellectual knowledge. 

Further Sahkara points out that Brahman is not the 
void of the Buddhists. The Brahman of Sahkara is the 
Reality ; but for it there would be nothing. It is the 
substrate underlying the whole world of phenomena. 
Spiritual realisation affirms the real through the negation 
of the phenomenal. The advaitin denies only names 
and forms but not that which appears under their guise. 
The reality of the substrate is affirmed but not as a sub- 
strate. The advaitin negates only distinction ( bheda ), 
the Buddhist negates distinction as well as the distincts. 
To the Buddhists there is nothing permanent and stable 
underlying the flux of the universe. This position of the 
Buddhists is refuted by Sahkara elaborately in his com- 
mentary on the second chapter of the vedanta sutras. 1 

1 For the refutation of SSnkhya position see Sankara's commen- 
tary on the Vedanta Sutras, chap. II, 1 to 10 sUtras ; for refutation 
of Buddhism, chap. II, 18 to 32 sUtras. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 31 

The central Reality, Brahman is posited by scripture 
and is realised by the Self. It is of great interest to note 
here that some of our modern interpreters of the advaita 
Vedanta have tried to equate advaita and Buddhism. 
They point out that Buddhism is not nihilism. Prof. 
RADHAKRISHNAN has consistently maintained that the 
Buddha could by no possible means have preached an arid 
and barren nihilism to the folk of his day. It is psycho- 
logically impossible to believe that Buddha should have 
enjoyed the popular veneration he did if he had really 
preached nihilism. The professor concludes that Buddha 
did affirm a central Reality and negated only the pheno- 
menal selves. The silence of Buddha is a classical 
illustration of the truth that final truths cannot be ex- 
pressed in words : to take Buddha to be a nihilist is to 
mistake his true philosophical stature 1 . 

The competent European critic of Buddhism, Mrs 
Rhys DAVIDS, till the other day disagreed with the 
positive interpretation of Buddhism. In her recent book 
Advanced Manual of Buddhism she has come round to the 
view that Buddha's teaching is not nihilistic. Svami 
VlVEKANANDA suggested that Buddhism was not entirely 
anti-Hindu. Mahatma GANDHI in his inspiring address to 
the Buddhists of Colombo pointed out that the teaching 
of Buddha formed an integral part of Hinduism. He 
observed that what passes as Buddhism today was not 
an essential part of Buddha's life and his teachings 
Buddha never rejected Hinduism or its central reality, 
whatever be the truth in the modern belief that Buddha, 
was a Hindu seer, no support for it could be found in, 
the writings of Sankara and his followers, who were there 

1 S. RADHAKRISHKAN'S British, Academy lecture, Gautama the 
Buddha. 



32 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

concerned to stress their departure from Buddhism and 
not their affinities to it. For similar reasons no weight 
need be attached to the appellation 'Buddhism in 
disguise' which was applied to Sahkara by his opponents. 
He broadened its base and gave it a new life and a new 
interpretation. 

Ill 

Brahman is the central Reality of Advaita. It is 
the supreme spirit, consciousness and intelligence. Re- 
vealed scripture is the final authority for the existence 
of Brahman. 1 Brahman is not an object of knowledge 
it is knowledge itself. There is nothing besides it. It 
cannot be described in terms of any object other than it- 
self. It is not a relatum in the relational process of 
knowledge. It cannot be the content of any cognition 
without losing its self-hood. It is self-manifest and self- 
luminous. The instruments of knowledge (pramanas) can 
only negatively indicate what Brahman is. There is no 
knowing Brahman but only being Brahman. It can only 
be known in the non-relational form. Brahman know* 
ledge is experience attained by disciplined souls who 
have purified their minds by the performance of the 
duties laid down in the scriptures. Brahman is the one 
without a second. 

The establishment of Brahman on the authority of 
scripture appears unphilosophical at first sight, but in 
reality it is not so. 2 Supreme authority is claimed not 
for the entire veda, but only for certain significant parts. 3 

1 Vedanta Sutra., 1, 1, 3. 

2 Prof. S. S. SASTRI, of. Introduction to Bhamatl, T.P.H., pp. 13-15., 

3 Tatparyavati hi srutih pratyaksad balavati, na srutimatram 
Bhamatl, p. 15. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 33 

In determining which parts are authoritative, the science 
of interpretation adopts certain determinative marks of 
purport. 1 They are, the agreement of the initial and the 
concluding passages, repetition, novelty, fruitfulness, 
glorification by eulogistic passages, and condemnation by 
the deprecatory passages, and intelligibility in the light 
of reasoning. Reason, (this determinative mark of pur- 
port ), plays a more important part than is formally 
avowed. In fact reason steps in at every stage. When 
we have to settle the introductory and the concluding 
passages reason has to help us to distinguish the primary 
and the secondary passages. It is again reason that has 
to point out which repetition is purportful and which 
not. The really novel is to be ascertained by reason. So 
the authoritarianism of advaita is only unphilosophical 
on the face of it, because the role of reason in the 
interpretation of scripture is most prominent. 

IV 

Brahman according to advaita is not the Creator of 
the Universe in the sense that a potter is the maker of 
the pot. Nor is creation an emanation from nothing. 
Out of the non-existence nothing can be created. The 
Nyaya school holds the view that the effect is non-exist- 
ent prior to its creation. They hold that the effect is 
de novo. The sahkhyans criticise the Nyaya position, in 
detail and hold that effect is pre-figured in the 
cause. They maintain that an absolutely non-existent 
effect cannot be brought in by any agency "any more 
than a thousand crafts-men could turn blue into 
yellow or extract oil from sand ". One who wishes 

i " Upakramo 'pasaijiharav 'abhySso 'purvatS phalam, artha- 
va"do 'papatti ca Imgam t5tparya-nir$aye". 
3 



34 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

to produce a particular effect seeks the appropriate 
material cause ; e. g., one who wants curd seeks 
milk and not water. Further there is the question, 
" Is there a time interval between cause and effect ?" 
If there is, does the cause wholly cease to exist, before 
the effect comes into being ? In that case, the immediate 
antecedent of the product would be a non-existence ; and 
though we may in speech distinguish the non-existence 
of x from the non-existence of y, there is in reality no 
way of distinguishing one non-existence from another. 
Again if the produced effect is de novo then any effect 
may t follow from any cause. 1 

Sankara has great sympathy with the sahkhya criti- 
cism of the nyaya position. But he did not rest there. 
The sahkhyan doctrine of cause, satkaryavada, fares no 
better than the nyaya theory at the hands of Sahkara. 
The argument is as follows : Granting that the effect is 
the manifestation of the cause, before the manifestation, 
was the effect existent or not ? If it was already 
existent, then the causal operation becomes super- 
fluous. If it is not existent, then there will have 
to be a cause for the manifestation and that in its turn 
will need another cause. Thus there is infinite regress. 
The sahkhyan concept when pressed t to its limits leads 
us to the advaita conclusion. Sahkara makes the 
Sankhyan view the jumping board for his theory, i. e. 
that the relation of cause and effect are not ultimately 
real. 2 



1 Prof. S. S. SASTBI'S article on ' Advaita, Causality and 
Human Freedom, 1 I. H. Q. Vol. XVI. 1940, and seeSankhya Karika, 
v. 10. 

* "Vivarta vadasya hi purvabhUmih VedSnta v3de ParinSma 
vadah", Sarvajnatman's Sanksepa-Sartraka II, 61. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 35 

The advaitin's explanation of cause and effect rela- 
tion is that they are appearances of the same Reality, 
The causal relationship exists as between the substrate 
and the superimposed e. g., the rope and the snake. It is 
not, as the anti-phenomenalists think, as ultimately real as 
Brahman. "It is a product of nescience, and as long as we 
live in a world of nescience, we have no right to impugn 
causality/ 1 It is as objective as the world is ; even for the 
transcendence of nescience, we depend on this concept, 
since we have to depend on means, like instruction, 
xeflection, contemplation etc. If these were not well- 
settled causes they could not be depended on by us in 
our laudable endeavour to realise ourselves. The advai- 
tins admit "that causal rigidity in the empirical world is 
consistent with the denial of causality in the transcen- 
dental world". 1 



The advaitin describes Brahman in a negative 
manner and finds support for it in the upanisads. The 
entire advaita dialectics rests on two general postulates 
(a) the absolutely real is never sublated, (&) the ab- 
solutely unreal is never cognised. The example for the 
absolutely real is Brahman. The examples for the abso- 
lutely unreals are the barren woman's son and the horns 
of a hare. In between these two categories the whole 
world of plurality is caught up. The whole world of 
plurality which we perceive, manipulate and live in, is 
neither real nor unreal. In deep sleep we experience the 
sublation of the pluralistic universe. Being sublated it is 
not real ; neither is it unreal because it is cognised, nor 



* Prof. S. S. SASTRI'S article on 'Advaita causality and 
Puman Freedom.' 1. H. Q. Vol. II. 



36 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

is it real and unreal because such a definition violates 
the Law of Contradiction. It is this indeterminable 
nature (anirvacyatvam) of the Universe that is connoted 
by the term mciya. 

According to the advaitin the very mechanism of 
finite knowledge with all its categories is only applicable 
to the sphere of the indeterminable. Brahman cannot 
adequately be known by these finite categories. The 
absolutely real Brahman loses its self-hood when it 
becomes an object of relational knowledge. So no 
predication in respect of Brahman is intelligible, because 
there is nothing real besides it. The Upanisadic description 
of Brahman in terms of knowledge, bliss and infinitude 
should be interpreted as excluding their opposites,, 
the unreal, inert and the finite. Brahman does not 
possess knowledge, bliss and infinitude. He is knowledge 
bliss and infinitude. The import of propositions in respect 
of Brahman is identity and not predication. It is the 
native weakness of finite cognition to compare the infinite 
and refer to it in terms of the finite. It is meaningless to 
refer to Brahman as the Good or the Truthful. It is the 
final Truth and the final Good and we cannot refer to it in 
terms of any other thing. He is perfect ; there can be no 
progress for the perfect. Progress and perfection are in 
Brahman and not of Brahman. Brahman does not admit 
of substrate-attribute relation. It does not admit of the 
relation between the part and the whole. It is the end as 
well as the means. It is spoken of as the impartite 
(akhancla). It is these logical difficulties that have 
prevented Sahkara from thinking of the highest Reality 
in terms of personality. 

'The affirmative theology" of the other schools of the 
vedanta in their anxiety to bring the Absolute into relation 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 37 

with the relative makes the Absolute itself relative. Those 
schools conceive of God as a supra-person, creator, 
sustainer etc., of the Universe. 

The belief that the ultimate reality is a personal God 
with virtues and powers for ill, produces not very desir- 
able moral qualities in the worshipper, Aldous HUXLEY 
observes that the Hebrew concept of God as a magnified 
human person with human passions is not morally the 
best ideal. He is represented as wrathful, jealous and 
vindictive. This being so the devotees too tend to be 
like that. This fanaticism has resulted in burning the 
witches and tormenting heretics. Personality and indivi- 
duality are in the last resort a limitation and hinder the 
spirit of the unitary consciousness. 'Belief in a personal 
moral God has led only too frequently to theoretical 
dogmatism and practical intolerance. In the name of the 
divine moral men have committed many an atrocity/ 1 

The traditional arguments put forward to establish 
a personal God as the ultimate Reality are not convinc- 
ing. The causal argument is not conclusive because the 
category of cause itself is unintelligible in the last resort. 2 
The design argument establishes God as a mechanic li- 
mited by the material with which he has to work. It does 
not rule out the possibility of a plurality of designers. 
The moral argument that God somehow brings about 
the wedlock of happiness and virtue turns out to be a 



i HUXLEY, Ends and Means, pp. 272-84. 

a If the world needs a cause for its origination then the God 
who creates it also must have cause. 

Further to admit a cause for the existence of God lands us con- 
sequently in infinite regress. To exempt God from the law is to 
deny the universality of the Law. 

If it be urged that God is uncaused, so too is the world. 



38 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

case of wishful thinking. So the central reality cannot' 
be a personal God. 

VI 

The Universe of plurality on the advaita hypo- 
thesis is neither created by Brahman, nor is it a trans- 
formation of Brahman. It is an illusory manifestation of 
Brahman. The central problem of advaita is : how 
does this illusory manifestation take place and why does- 
it take place ? The straight answer to this question is 
the inexplicable knotty expression, maya, i. e., nescience. 
It is this nescience that is responsible for the plurality 
we perceive. It has two functions. It obscures the 
substrate, i. e., Brahman and projects in its place the 
world of plurality. In the words of Prof. HlRIYANNA 
'Suppression precedes substitution 11 . This nescience is 
indeterminable. Finite cognition, the categories of such 
cognition, the instruments of human knowledge, the 
import of scriptural statements, are all products of 
nescience. It is represented as a positive beginningless 
entity which is sublatable. It is called adhyasa ( super- 
imposition ). Sahkara describes it at great length in his 
introduction to the commentary on the Vedanta-sutras. 
There he points out with great persuasive skill, and 
striking cogency that the entire social intercourse of men. 
( lokavyavahara ) presupposes nescience. It is the fact 
of everyday experience. Though our true self is 
Brahman, still on account of nescience, we super-impose 
the ills of the body on the self. When the body is ill 
we say** we are ill", when the body lacks the sense of 
hearing we say "we are deaf. Thus there is confusion 
between the self and the not-self. Unless we super- 
impose ourselves on our sense-organs, we cannot become 
knowing subjects. The knowing subjects need sense 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF S ANKARA 39 

organs to know the things about us. Knowledge pre-sup- 
poses a knowing subject, a known object, and the means 
of knowledge. All these are not possible without the 
assumption of reciprocal super-imposition of the self with 
the not-self and vice versa. It is this nescience that is 
the cause of all trouble. 1 

The advaitin's concept of nescience has been submit- 
ted to a great deal of criticism. The Law of the excluded 
middle is the tool with which the advaitin is attacked. 
The world is spoken of by the advaitin as illusory. Is 
that illusion illusory ? If the illusoriness of the Universe 
is itself an illusion, then the world becomes real, because 
of the cancellation of the two negations. If the illusori- 
ness of the Universe is real there is contradiction for the 
advaita doctrine that there is only one Category. The 
resourceful advaitin finds his way out of this dilemma. 
He does say that the illusoriness of the universe is 
illusory. The nerve of his argument is as follows: The 
difficulty seems to arise from the fact that a qualifica- 
tion can apply only to something other than itself, not 
both to itself and others. Illusoriness is a qualification 
we predicate and the subject of the predicate cannot 
itself be illusory. The illusory illusion must be real. 
But surely 'nothing can be farther from truth. The 
illusoriness of the illusion is a paradox but it is no greater 
paradox than the affirmation of the reality of the real. 2 

Our very knowledge is a paradox for the following 
reasons. We cannot have the knowledge of the unknown, 
since there can be no activity in respect of what is not 
known, nor can knowledge be of the known. If it be 



1 6ankara's AdhyUsabhasya. 

* Prof. S. S,* SASTRI, Introduction to Siddhantalea-$akgraha> 
Vol. I, pp, 48-51. 



40 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

contended that it is of the partly known, then does the 
cognitive activity apply to the known part, or the 
unknown ? In either case, we have the same old difficulty. 
Because of this we have to recognise the paradox of 
knowledge. 1 Further it is plain to us that there is at the 
root of finite cognition a core of irreducible unintelligibi- 
lity. We conclude that the relational knowledge of the 
finite is not perfect and it is only an appearance of perfect 
knowledge. Because of this central paradox in all finite 
activity there is an irreducible unintelligibility in it. So 
the advaitin does not commit himself to any definite 
description about the nature of the world of plurality. 
He does not recklessly repudiate. His is not an attitude 
of blind faith or blank negation. He is scientific in his 
suspense of judgment in the absence of evidence. By the 
very use of the categories of logic he points out the rift 
in its lute. The great lesson of advaita logic is that it 
exposes the clayfooted nature of logic and points out that 
she is not the Madonna of Thought that the Nyaya 
school imagines her to be. The advaitin is not out to 
demonstrate this or that position. He points out that 
every other position held by the opponent is untenable. 
They are left with the witness of the condemnation. 
The definitions and proofs attempted by the advaitin are 
only a concession to the clamour of the dualistic mode of 
expression. 2 

1 Prof. S. S. SA.STRI, Principal Miller Lectures, Advaita and the 
Concept of Progress, 1937, pp. 14-15. 

2 Prof. S. S. SASTBI, * AdvaitavidySmukura,' J. 0. #,, Vol. 10 
p. 286, 

' na by asmSbhir mithyatvam anyad v5 kificin nirupaniyam asti. 
Param nirupyamaga prapanca khandanenaiva vayam bi 
acaritSrtbab. Tatra, tatra laksai?5-' bbidSnam tu para buddbya- 
nuraiijan5ya. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 41 

Another usual objection raised against nescience is 
based on its practical efficiency. The objection is as 
follows : nescience is described by the advaitin as 
indeterminable. How can the indeterminable be practi- 
cally efficient ? The advaitin 's reply is that practical 
efficiency belongs only to the indeterminable and to 
nothing else. Practical efficiency cannot belong to 
Brahman who is the Absolute, real, pure, perfect and free 
from changes. It is only that which is short of such 
a reality that can have practical efficiency. 

How can the cognition generated by the nescience 
tainted pramana lead us to Brahman intuition ? To this 
the answer is that error is oftentimes the gateway to 
truth. A false instrument of knowledge can help us to 
cognise a real object. The phenomenal pramanas can 
point to the Noumenal Reality. In the world of scientific 
thought we find that erroneous hypotheses lead us to 
valid theories. So the illusory nature of the pramana is 
no obstacle for us to know the truth. Just as the bamboo 
in the forest, which lights up the whole forest, burns 
itself out along with the forest, the final intuition destroys 
the world of plurality as well as itself. The image of a 
person reflected in a mirror is not real but still it serves 
as a means for showing us the merits or defects in our 
face. Error and delusion have their own utility. 

VII 

The two realms set out by advaita, namely the 
Phenomenal and the Noumenal, must somehow be shown 
to constitute an integral unity. Without such a synoptic 
view it would be unintelligible to maintain that the 
world is an illusory manifestation of Brahman. Traditional 
writers on advaita metaphysics seem to hold the view 
that the final intuition annuls the whole world of Reality. 



42 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

They say that the world of plurality is sublated by Brah- 
man intuition. The sublation is something like the sub- 
lation of the dream experience by the waking life. Such 
an interpretation establishes no continuity between the 
Phenomenal and the Noumenal. Professor S. S. SASTRI 
in his Presidential Address to the Philosophy and 
Religion Section of the All-India Oriental Conference, 
1937, suggested that sublation should be interpreted as 
sublimation and transcendence and not as annulment. If 
we stick to the doctrine of annulment, we shall not be 
able to account for the continuity between the phenome- 
nal and the noumenal. "From the empirical to the real, 
from the appearance to the Absolute, a passage is either 
possible or is not ; if not, the Absolutist Philosophy is an 
irrelevant nightmare. " " Reality and existence " says 
RADHAKRISHNAN "are not to be set against each other as 
metaphysical contraries. Nothing on earth is utterly 
perfect or without perfection." The existing objects of 
the world of plurality cannot commit suicide and go into 
nothing. This is avoided by adopting the suggestion 
namely sublimation in the place of annulment. The objects 
of the world of plurality and the subject who knows them 
on the empirical plane are transformed and sublimated 
by the Brahman-intuition. This suggestion points out a 
continuity between the Phenomenal and the NoumenaL 
So ** sublation is sublimation " and not annulment. 

The relation between the world of plurality and 
Brahman has to be understood with great care. In one 
sense Brahman is the cause of the world of plurality. But 
for him the world of plurality will not be there. The 
advaitin does not assert the non-otherness of effect from 
cause; he does not however assert their identity in such 
wise as to deduce for the effect the reality of the cause I 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 43 

the negation of otherness amounts only to this the effect 
has no reality other than that of the cause. 1 It is be- 
cause of this non-otherness of the effect from the cause 
that the Upanisads declare that by knowing one Brahman 
we know all the things of the world. According to- 
one school of advaita nescience is the cause for the 
world of plurality. Some others hold the view that 
Isvara ( Brahman qualified or delimited by maya ) is the 
prime cause of the world of plurality. Maya is given a 
secondary place. But all the schools are agreed that the 
world of plurality is no other than Brahman and it is its 
illusory manifestation. 

VIII 

An extreme view of advaita is that there is only one- 
nescience and that nescience reflects Brahman and as soon 
as that reflected soul attains release there is destruction 
of the nescience. On this view there exists only one 
soul. The presence of other souls bound as well as 
released, is compared to the dreams of that single soul. 

Such a radical solipsist position is not acceptable to 
the majority of the advaitins. Besides scripture declares 
that there are released as well as bound souls. So a 
plurality of nesciences is posited. It is the difference 
between the various nesciences that accounts for the 
variety of individuals. The experience that we are finite 
selves is known to us only through the conflict and the 
contrast with other selves. The conflict presupposes a 
plurality of empirical selves. Sahkara in his commentary 
while speaking about the reciprocal super-imposition of 
the self and the not- self, significantly refers to the not- 



i Na khalv ananyatvam ity abhedam brEraah, kini tu bhedaip 
vyasedhSmah Bhnmafi II, i, 14, 



44 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

self as 4 thou' and not as 'it' or "that*. Such a significant 
usage helps us to infer that Sahkara was in favour of a 
plurality of souls. The school that holds that there is 
only one soul is of opinion that Brahman is the locus as 
well as the content of the nescience. Nescience cannot be 
located in an inert entity. It must have pure conscious- 
ness for its locus as well as its content. This school of 
advaita goes by the name of ekajivavada. 

The majority of advaitins posit a plurality of nes. 
ciences. The content of nescience is Brahman and its locus 
is the jlva. It may be objected that souls cannot come 
into existence without the functioning of nescience and 
nescience cannot therefore be located in its own product i 
the soul. Thus the charge of reciprocal dependence is 
levelled against the advaitin. The advaitin finds a way out 
of this muddle by positing the beginningless nature of the 
interaction of the nescience and jlvahood. He says that 
there was no time when there was no jlva or nescience. 

If it be still urged that such a relation of dependence 
between nescience and jlva is un-intelligible the resolute 
advaitin admits the charge. It is the very nature of 
nescience to be ultimately unintelligible. Why expect 
intelligibility in the case of nescience when it is pro- 
claimed to be indeterminable? 1 Though nescience is 
located in the jlva it does not belong to jlva ; its content is 
Isvara. Ignorance or nescience may be located in me 
and still I may not be its controller. The empirical 
usage that ignorance belongs to me is figurative. The 
conditioned absolute, i. e., Isvara, is the controller (the 
arch-juggler of nescience). He creates the whole Universe 

i durghatatvam avidySyah bhusa$am na tu dusa^am. Katham 
oit ghatamSnatve avidyStvam durghatam bhavet Isfasiddhi of 
Vimuktatman. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 45 

with nescience as its material cause. The individual soul 
does not create the Universe. Nescience is thus estab- 
lished to be bi-polar. 

Besides the pure Brahman which is the ground as 
well as the goal of existence, advaita tradition admits 
the existence of a personal God Isvara. The God of 
religion comes in between the empirical selves and the 
transcendental Brahman. All the scriptural passages that 
enumerate the function of the Lord refer to Isvara. Wor- 
ship of this Saguna Brahman is insisted on as a stage on 
the road to realisation. 

It is wrong to hold as some do that the Isvara of 
advaita is on no higher plane than the nescience ridden 
individual self. Wthout the grace of the Lord nay, not 
even an inclination towards the non-dualist frame of mind 
is possible. 1 Madhusudana in concluding his monumental 
work Advaita Siddhi stresses his irresistable love for a 
personal God in the form of Lord Krsna. He says " with 
flute in hand, of the hue of a fresh (water laden) cloud 
dressed in yellow silk, of lip red like bimba fruit, of face 
charming like the moon and eyes like lotus beyond this 
Krsna, I know not of any truth." 2 

The God of advaita does not act from any selfish 
motives. It is His Ilia (sport). Creation is the 
overflow of his goodness. He is not subject to the 
limitations omaya as the ordinary soul. Maya is the 
energy and he is the energiser. If we do not admit the 



i Sri Harsa's Khandana-khanda-khadya 'IsvarSnugrahadeva 
Purjisam advaita va"sana', Chap. 1, v. 21. 

a Vaihslvibhusita karat navaniradabhat 
PItambarat aruijabimba phaladharosthSt 
PUrijendu sundara mukhSt aravinda neirSt 

param kimapi tattvara ahara na j5ne. 



46 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

existence of God, we will not be able to account for the 
existence of the world. Reality is not less, but more than 
God ; not by eschewing God, but by realising and 
transcending Him can we realise self, for the world is 
God-dependent ; and to ignore God may well lead to 
asserting itself as if independent, and weighing us down, 
as in samsara ; release requires therefore the realisation, 
first of the dependence of the world on God, and then of 
God being an appearance of Brahman. 1 

Sahkara in his commentary on the Brhadaranyaka 
points out that the 'unconditional self, being beyond 
speech and mind, undiiferentiated and one is designated 
as "not this, not this**. When it has the limiting 
adjuncts of the body and organs which are characterised 
by imperfect knowledge, desire and work it is called the 
empirical individual self. When the self has the limita. 
tions of creative Power manifesting through eternal and 
unlimited knowledge, it is called the antaryamin (inner 
ruler). The same self, as by its nature transcendent, 
absolute, and pure, is called the immutable supreme self. 2 

The reflection theory holds the view that Brahman 
reflected in maya is Isvara. The jlvas in this view are 
reflections of Brahman in avidya. The difference 
between the two reflecting media is, that one is 
predominantly pure saliva, and another impure saliva. 
Maya is predominantly pure sattva and avidya is 
impure saliva. This view reduces Isvara also to a reflec- 
tion on the analogy of individual souls. 

There is another view _which establishes an organic 
relation between jiva and Isvara. The nescience has for 



1 S. S. SASTRl's &ahkaracarya> pp. 96-97. 

2 Saakara on Brhadaranyaka Upanisad III, 8, 12 ; S. RADHA- 
KRISHNAN's Eastern religions and Western Thought, p. 29. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 47 

its content Isvara, and its locus is jiva. When the indivi- 
dual soul's nescience is removed, he becomes one with 
Isvara and not Brahman. It is only when all the souls 
transcend their respective nesciences there is the realisa- 
tion of Brahman : at that stag& Isvara automatically 
ceases to exist. The jivas are the reflections of Isvara. If 
it be contended that nescience has no quality or visible 
form and that reflection for it is impossible, the advaitin 
explains it with the help of an analogy. Just as ether 
which is infinite and all-pervasive seems confined in 
objects like a pot, the jiva is the delimited form 
of Brahman. This is called the avaccheda view. This 
view helps us to establish an intelligible connection 
between the jlva and Isvara and also accords with the 
declaration of scripture relating to the existence of the 
released and unreleased souls. l 

IX 

The central import of Advaita is the identity of the 
individual soul and Brahman. The category of difference 
is refuted in detail. 2 Advaita repudiates the common- 
sense view that normal sense perception gives us a 
world of separate individual existents. The so-called 
individual separate existents are neither separate nor 
independent. The separate individual existent is the 
result of a network of forces mental and material. 
Their individuality is only an abstraction from 
Reality. The things we ordinarily call objects or indivi- 
duals like man, table, tree, are not realities as the 
romantic anti-rationalist or the superficial realist would 



i Prof. S. S. SA.STRI, Introduction to the Siddhanta-lefo Sab- 
graha, pp. 39-42. 



1 



Prof. 8. S. SASTRI, Introduction to BhQmati. 



48 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

have us believe. They are appearances of Reality. There- 
is a comprehensive ignorance of which we partake and it 
is this ignorance that is responsible for our view that 
we are separate individuals. The scientific view is a 
partial view. It has abstracted a portion of Reality 
which is mathematically determinable. The scientist's 
picture of the Universe proves to be a private Universe. 
The other aspects of Reality which do not submit to 
mathematical treatment are left out as meaningless* 
The scientist does not possess instruments to deal with 
those aspects of Reality. Hence he mistakes the partial 
reality abstracted from the true as the real. 

Mandana, the great advaita thinker, with unsur- 
passed logical acumen, has discussed the dialectic of 
difference. The advaitin has pressed to his service all 
the pramanas to yield the central doctrine of advaita, 
the identity of Brahman and the individual self. 

Scripture is the central pramana for advaita in the 
establishment of the identity of the individual self and 
Brahman. Mandana points out that scripture declares 
the identity in unequivocal terms. Scripture no doubt 
has to be interpreted according to the determinative 
marks of purport. The famous Chandogya Sruti points 
out and identifies the reality of Brahman with the self, 
that thou art ( tattvamasi ). This teaching is repeated 
ninefold to show that it is important and that it is its 
primary purport. This identity with Brahman is not 
known, through ordinary experience as the heat of fire, 
or the price of bread. So the scriptural declaration 
is not a mere re-statement. It is fruitful because the 
knowledge of identity helps us to pass beyond the 
travail of transmigration. The knowledge of this iden- 
tity is praised and its opposite deprecated. It also stands 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 49 

to reason. The rigorous application of the determinative 
marks of" purport points out that the central truth of the 
Srutis is identity. 

There are several passages in the Upanisads which 
point out difference as the central purport of the Srutis. 
They refer to a radical difference between Brahman and 
the individual. Theadvaitin explains these passages as 
elaborating the phenomenal view-point to be refuted 
later. The bheda-sruti ( scriptural statements that have 
difference for their purport ) are refuted ultimately by 
purportful identity-sruti. 

The great Mandana says that perception is not 
opposed to the advaita doctrine. Apparently perception 
gives us a world of plurality. It is the first and the 
primary instrument of knowledge, From this it does 
not follow that perception is an unsublatable pramana. 
It may be the first instrument of knowledge but by 
no means is it basic. Scriptural knowledge arises by 
sublating the cognition derived through perception. 
Hence the knowledge derived through perception is 
sublated by the knowledge arising from a subsequent 
Pramana. 

Mandana points out that perception does not cognise 
difference. The summary of his argument is as follows : 
Difference is a relation. It needs two relata for its 
existence. Is difference the nature of the things ? Or 
is it an attribute of them ? If it were the nature of the 
things, there would be no things to be different. If any- 
one were to point out a single entity, that would break 
itself into a number of things because of difference 
being its nature. Thus the process would go on endless- 
ly and it would not even rest with the primal atom. 
So difference cannot be the nature of things. 
4 



50 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Nor -can difference be the attribute of the relata. 
If difference is the attribute of the things, then is 
the attribute different from its substrate ? Or is it of its 
very nature? If the attribute is different from the sub- 
strate we have three units (1) the substrate, (2) the 
difference which is its attribute, and (3) the difference of 
the attribute from the substrate. Once we start the 
enquiry into the relation of this difference to the sub- 
strate on the one hand and the attribute on the other we 
are condemned to infinite regress. Thus the category of 
difference turns out to be ultimately unintelligible. At 
best it can give us appearance and not truth. To use 
the words of BRADLEY it is a make-shift, it is a device, a 
mere practical compromise most necessary but in the end 
most indefensible. 1 

The advaitin does not rest satisfied with the refut- 
ation of the category of difference. Those who reject 
difference take to the fascinating doctrine of the concrete 
universal. The Advaitin refutes that also in detail. The 
Absolute of advaita transcends the concrete universal. 
In our common experience we find identity and difference 
co-exist. The mere fact of their apparent synthesis does 
not warrant their ultimate reality. The existent is not 
always the real. The categories accepted by finite cog- 
nition are by no means critical. To see that identity and 
difference co-exist is not to take them to be real. " A 
crown and bracelet, it is said, are different and yet not 
different, different as products but not different in respect 
of their material cause, i. e., gold. But if they are 
really non-different, he who wants a crown must be 
satisfied with a bracelet. If we maintain that there is 
a difference between a crown and a bracelet, then 

1 BRADLEY, Appearance and Reality, p. 33. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 51 

there must be difference between the bracelet and 
gold also, because crown and gold are non-different. 
Because of the difference between the crown and 
bracelet he who wants the first does not want the 
second. Why should it not be that he wants it too 
because of this non-difference ? MI Such in bare outline is 
the critique of identity in difference. Identity in differ- 
ence turns out only to be a device resulting in self- 
deception through insufficient analysis. 

The path to reach the Absolute can be represented 
in the form of a dialectical formula. Adhyaropapavada- 
bhyam nisprapancam prapancyate. It is a dialectical 
process whereby the distinctionlessness of the indeter- 
minate cognition passes over into the cognition of differ- 
ence and then transcends itself in the distinctionless 
intuition that is Brahman. There is first the superimpos- 
ition of plurality on Brahman and then it is sublated. 
Super-imposition and sublation are the two acts that lead 
the advaitin to moksa. "To ignore the world is not 
identical witlrbeing ignorant of it. 1 ' 2 There is no short 
cut to realisation excepting through the super-imposition 
and the withdrawal thereof. The spirit must go forth 
and come back with enriched experience. It must know 
the perils and pass through the 'vale of tears' and must 
learn 'the art of soul-making 1 . 

X 

The spiritual aspirant has necessarily to undergo the 
moral training imposed by scriptures. Advaitins are of 
opinion that ethical excellence and ceremonial purity are 



1 Prof. S. S. SASTBl, Introduction to BhUmati, pp. 19-21. 

a Prof. S. S. SASTRI, Advaita and the Concept of Progress, pp. 18-19, 



52 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

not directly contributory to spiritual realisation. But 
morality and ritual help the soul to acquire the calmness 
necessary for Vedantic study. Sahkara in his comment- 
ary has laid down the prerequisites for vedantic enquiry. 
They are : the discrimination of the fleeting from the 
permanent, non-attachment to results here and hereafter, 
the qualities of calmness, equanimity and contentment, 
etc., and the desire for release. Ethical excellence is a 
necessary step for the advaitin on his path to perfection. 
The spiritual aspirant has necessarily to cultivate vairagya 
( detachment ). The doctrine of non-attachment pre- 
supposes the* cultivation of positive practical virtues. 
This grand ideal of non-attachment has been systemati- 
cally preached in all the systems of Indian philosophy. 
Without non-attachment concentration on the spiritual 
Reality is impossible. The great philosophers of the 
west have not cultivated this detachment. Aldous 
HUXLEY points out that the biographies of the great 
metaphysicians of the west often make extremely 
depressing reading. Spite, envy and vanity are too 
frequently manifested by these professed lovers of wisdom. 
Some are not even immune from the most childish animal- 
ism. NlETZSCHE's biographers record that at the time 
when he was writing his Superman he was unable to 
control his appetite for jam and pastry. In his mountain 
retreat when a hamper of good things arrived for him, 
he would ;eat and eat until he had to go to bed with a 
bilious attack. KANT had a similar passion for crystallised 
fruit and along with it such an abhorrence for sickness and 
death that he refused to visit his friends when they were 
ill, or even to speak of them once they had died. Besides, 
KANT claimed an infallibility for his metaphysics and 
identified the limits of philosophy with his thought. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 53 

These great western thinkers were intelligent in relation 
to the not-self and were ignorant of the self. 

The advaitin on the other hand, points out that 
ethical excellence is the first step for spiritual realisation. 
A careful discriminative wisdom results in the attachment 
to Brahman and detachment from the perishing and the 
illusory. After acquiring the necessary moral excellence 
the aspirant takes to uninterrupted meditation and 
contemplation solely of the scripture-taught real. Medita- 
tion is the technique of mysticism. It is the method of 
acquiring knowledge of the most essential nature of 
things. Such uninterrupted contemplation leads to the 
final intuition i. e., Brdhmasaksaikara. This final intuition 
is the central fact of religion. "To develop this spiritual 
dimension we have to withdraw our souls from the flux 
of existence, endure an agony of experience, or travel, 
barren and stormy wastes of despair. When once this 
consciousness arises pride, prejudice and privilege fall and 
a new delight is born in the soul/' 1 This mystic expe- 
rience is possible for one and all of us if we strive for it. 

The unrepentant rationalist might object to the 
validity of mystic experience. It is impossible for the 
deaf to form any idea of music. To an Indian, 
European orchestral music is intolerably noisy, compli- 



i S, RADHAKRISHNAN, Lecture on The Supreme spiritual ideal 
the Hindu View ( World Congress of Faiths ). Aldous HUXLEY 
raises the question ; * what use is mysticism ' where it is alive ? The 
answer to that question he proceeds to say ' is that where there is no 
vision, the people perish ; and if those who are the salt of the earth 
lose their savour, there is nothing there to keep the earth disinfected, 
nothing to prevent it from falling into decay. The mystics are the 
channels through which a little of knowledge filters down into our 
universe of ignorance and illusion. A totally unraystical world 
would be a world totally blind and insane*. Grey eminence. 



54 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

catcd and over-intellectual. To him it is no music but 
only an elaborate cacophony. "Of the signiiicant and 
pleasurable experiences of life only the simplest are opem 
indiscriminately to all. " The other pleasures cannot be 
had except by those who have undergone a suitable 
training. One must be trained even to enjoy the pleasures- 
of alcohol and tobacco. First whisky seems revolting. 
First pipes turn even the strongest of boyish stomachs. 
Similarly, first Shakespeare's sonnets seem meaningless, 
and the differential equation sheer torture. From this, 
it is clear that 'training 1 is necessary for experiencing, 
religious feeling. We must develop that dimension in us, 1 
The final intuition results according to one school of" 
advaita from the non-dual texts and according to 
another is perceived by the internal organ, manas. It 
is a non-relational type of knowledge. It is an immedi- 
ate experience. It is just like the indeterminate cognition 
of a child in the pre-relational stage. Two elements 
are common between the child's pre-relational cognition 
and Brahman intuition. They are, immediacy and the 
non-attributive nature of the cognition. The child's 
cognition returns to relational level as it grows but 
Brahman intuition never returns to relational level. 

XI 

The final realisation is not anything novel. It is the 
realisation of the potential nature of the spirit. It is 
just like laying one's hands on the forgotten ornament 
round one's own neck. This realisation of advaita is not 

l A fashionable lady who knew she had as good eyes as anyone 
looking at one of TURNER'S great painting 'The Sun set 1 , turned 
round to him and remarked with polite reproof; "you know 
Mr. TURNER, I never see sun set like that". His reply is instructive*- 
to purblind protestors. "D'ont you wish you did, Madame?" 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 55 

intended for a few or a clique only. It is not the close 
preserve of the intellectual. The realisation of the 
advaitin does not result through mere intellectualism. If 
Sahkara denied the Sudra and women the eligibility for 
the study of the Vedanta he did it in accordance with 
contemporary motives, which included an active faith in 
rebirth. Sahkara did not seek to exclude them from 
Brahman-realisation but pointed out for them other 
easier means than the study of the Vedanta. The path 
to spiritual realisation is not one mechanical road for all. 
All the buds do not give rise to the same flower. 
Different spiritual aspirants follow different techni- 
ques. 

The advaita conception of moksa is unique. It is 
not derived from the grace of an external God. It is 
native to the soul and is not derivative. It is not 
produced. It is something that is there awaiting self- 
discovery. The logical consequents of such a view are the 
doctrines of universal salvation and the concept of 
Jlvanmukti ( liberation in the embodied state). 

Advaita posits realisation as possible for all. There 
is no eternal damnation for any soul. Release being the 
manifestation of one's own nature and nothing adventi- 
tious, it cannot be denied or withheld from any. It is 
the birthright of every soul. Universal salvation is not 
only a possibility but a logical necessity for advaita. 
Some souls attain release soon and others take a 
longer time. 

Realisation is not mere absence of misery. It has a 
positive aspect. That is the bliss we experience. All 
the values of empirical life are not cancelled and annihi- 
lated in Brahman-realisation. They are transcended and 
sublimited in it. 



56 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

perience. Non-contradiction and coherence are the two 
tests by which we judge Reality. The two are the 
negative and the positive aspects of one and the same 
principle. It is self-manifest. DESCARTES was right in so 
far as he pointed out that thinking implies a thinker * 
Sankara's description of the self is a step in advance of 
DESCARTES. DESCARTES identifies self, with one aspect 
of experience, namely the experiencer ; Sahkara identifies 
self with experience as a whole. 

XII 

The individual self obtains release sometimes even 
when he is embodied : then he is called a jivanmukta* 
The physical body has no effect on the soul. The need 
for the jlvanmukta arises from the fact that we need 
reliable teachers who can preach advaita experience 
from self-knowledge. Some are of opinion that the 
protective energy of nescience is separated from the 
obscuring energy in the jlvanmukta. Some others hold 
that fivanmukti is a figurative mode of expression and it 
is not final release. 

XIII 

Besides the intellectual, there are other modes of 
realising Brahman. Truth which is Brahman is a perfect 
orb. We are bound to encompass it sooner or later. 
At best the intellectual methods might help us to reach 
Brahman sooner but it does not follow from this that 
the heart in devotion or the self dedicated to service 
is not also effective means of reaching Brahman. No 
spiritual pontiff can declare a monopoly of Brahman 
knowledge. The prescribed modes and paths are all 
right in their own place. They are good as guides and 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF SANKARA 57 

we should not allow them to dominate us. It is intel- 
lectualism that has led us to speak in despairing terms 
about emotions. It is merely an ancient and an 
irrational prejudice against emotions and will that 
has relegated bhakti to a lower plane than 
jnana. " The melting of the heart in love is not 
less noble than the expansion of it in wisdom, and the 
transcendence of the gulf between the agent and his 
action is not less noteworthy than the transcendence of 
that between the seer and the seen in knowledge/' The 
man who trades in concepts is not intrinsically superior 
to him who trades in sounds and colours. The beatific 
vision may come through artistic as through intellectual 
channels and the truly moral man who has lost all 
thought of himself is not necessarily farther from 
realisation than the artist or philosopher. The signifi- 
cant contribution of post-Sahkara thinkers to advaita is 
the stress laid on " integral synthesis rather than an 
intellectual dominance". 1 

The grand ideal of the advaita Philosophy is the 
supreme value of the real individual who is like the 
ideal artist and whose activities are creative. The pure 
advaitin is not tainted by the calculus of profit and loss. 
He has no purposive calculations or mechanical im- 
pulsions for his acts. He needs no laws. He is a law 
unto himself. There is nothing outside him because he 

1 Realisation according to advaita is experience and not 
mediate knowledge. The Narayanopanisad says " asthi brahmeti 
cet paroksa jnanameva tat ; aham brahma"smiti oet veda, 
s5ksatkSra ucyate. " . . The term Jnana does not merely comprise 
discursive reason S. Radhakrishanan explains it as follows. "It is not 
conceptual reasoning or metaphysical perspicacity, but is illumined 
Being, direct and immediate consciousness of reality." Modern India 
and West edited by O'MALLEY, pp. 340-341. 



58 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

is the Supreme Spirit. When we are liberated from the 
narrow prejudices and cast-iron conventions we are able 
to realise more fully through music or poetry, through 
history or science, through beauty and pain that the 
really valuable thing in human life is the atman and not 
such things 4 as happen on the battle fields or in the clash 
of politics or in the regimented march of masses of men 
towards an externally imposed goal. It is this ideal of 
self-realisation that has chiefly attracted the Hindu mind. 
It is these men 4< that stamp infinity on thought and 
add to the invisible goodness of mankind". These 
men of Spirit penetrated by the sense of nothingness, 
desire to be reobsorbed in the universal whence they 
sprang, enduring mean-while with quiet contempt the 
fatuous energies of men who still think it is worth while 
to trade, to govern and build empires and to fight. It is 
of these men of spiritual realisation who are rapt in inti- 
mate union with Brahman the ocean of infinite bliss and 
knowledge the Poet said, "their family is for ever 
sanctified, their mothers blessed and they are the salt of 
the earth. 1 



1 Kulam Pavitrani, Janarii Krtartha, vasundhara Punyavatl ca 
tena, apara Samvit sukha sag are Imam pare brahmani yasya cetah. 



CHAPTER IV 
Advaita and the New Social Order 

No doubt the philosophy of advaita and the view of 
life it inculcates had an attraction to the world of arcadian 
simplicity untouched by the transforming and revolu- 
tionary character of our machine age which has ushered 
in the Brave-New- World. Has advaita any message to 
our distracted passion-torn and war- shattered world, can 
advaita rival, supplement or correct the solutions set 
forth by the secular savants of humanity for the rescue 
of mankind from the present slough, can it give us mater- 
ial enough to build and rear up an enduring new social 
order, wherein men and women will be united in their 
loyalty to the supreme ideal of truth and in their resolution 
to put it in practice for the welfare of mankind ? 

We shall presently answer these questions in the 
affirmative. But, before doing so we shall have to exa- 
mine and criticise the merits and demerits of the solutions 
attractively set forth by the secular savants of humanity 
as efficient foundations for the new world order. 

(a) Taking the scientists of today first, they fall 
into three distinct groups in respect of their philoso- 
phical views. A certain section are in almost complete 
agreement with the philosophy of advaita. They assert 
that modern Physics and Mathematics lead to the accept- 
ance of the spiritual nature of Reality, that science find& 
its sanctions in philosophy, that a new social order can 
be reared up only on the basis of sound religion. The* 
chief representatives of this school are Eddington JEANS-: 

and EINSTEIN. 

59 



60 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

(6) Another group arc out and out Materialists. 
They style themselves impenitent rationalists and profess 
complete loyalty to science. They rest content with 
tangible evidence and laboratory proof. They do not 
admit the reality of the hyper-physical and the super- 
sensuous. They declare that there is no point in life nor 
purpose at the heart of the universe. Life, they say, is 
bound to go the way of all other creatures. Mortality is 
the stamp that is deeply laid on everything in the world. 
They depict man as nothing more than a petty impotent 
and crawling creature on the planet. He is powerless 
against the forces of Nature though he can for a time 
circumvent them. They say that man's moral outlook 
is determined by the relative functioning of his glands. 
"Man 1 , they declare, 'is in the grip of fate and has to fight 
a hostile universe. There is no inherent purpose in the 
process of Reality/ They say that Religion is created to 
comfort man and make him keep on live. They exhort 
us to live as best as we can. They tell us there is no 
absolute truth and that values are relative ; morality is 
conceived as the dictate of expediency. They ask us 
not to worry about the future. They say "let us learn 
to gather sloes in their season, to sheer sheep, and draw 
water from spring with grateful happiness, and no longer 
vex our souls with impossible longings." 1 They further 
say that man's freedom is just a myth, and that everything 
in the universe from "the movements of atoms to the 
events of History are governed by laws." The sceptics, the 
Agnostics and the Naturalists belong to this group. This 
outlook is set forth in elaborate academic technique in 
Mechanist Physics, Mechanist Biology, Behaviourism, 
Psychoanalysis and the Dialectical Materialism of MARX. 



Glory of life. 



ADVAITA AND THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER 61 

(c) Scientific Humanists constitute the third group. 
Unlike the impenitent and dogmatic scientists they accept 
that science with its foot rule and the scale cannot know 
all that is in Reality. Certain entities called Values 
Truth, Beauty, Goodness cannot be quantitatively 
determined. Humanists admit the existence of Values 
and their significance to life. The supreme value for the 
humanists is the greatest happiness of the greatest 
number. To secure that he sets to reorder society by 
intelligently planning production and distribution of the 
goods of the earth. The reordering is necessary because 
of the possessive impulse in men. Some men get all the 
things of the world and leave nothing for others. Hence 
the phenomena of the Haves and Have-nots. If men are 
reasonable and positively scientific in their outlook, the 
humanist believes that they cease to be acquisitive. If 
once the possessive impulse is burnt up, it is easy for us 
to usher in the New Social Order. 

(A) Communism is the chief variety of scientific 
Humanism. Its metaphysics and dialectics are of the 
materialist variety. The aim of the communist is to 
build a new social order where there would be model 
houses and higher wages. He, like the humanist, points 
out that our present society is largely based on the perni- 
cious instinct of acquisitiveness. The few men at the top 
take such a large share of the goods of the world that a 
vast majority, that toil all day long get not even a meagre 
subsistence wage. It is this inequitable distribution of 
wealth that is responsible for the armies of the unem- 
ployed, for the presence of poverty amidst plenty, and 
for the rotting of wheat and the burning of coffee. Prof. 
R. H. TANNEY points out that the entire economy of the 
world is managed by the skill and the capital of fifty men. 
41 If a Lord Milchet smiles there is sunshine and happiness 



62 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

in ten thousand houses, if a Lord Morgons frowns two 
continents are plunged in gloom." It is this sorry state 
of affairs that has made the communist declare himself 
against the existing social order. He wants to bring out a 
new social order, which guarantees a minimum economic 
security to all. 

The methods to be employed for bringing about such 
a social order, the communist says, are not persuasion and 
non-violence. The owners of Money Power will not part 
with their possessions in response to the appeal of sweet 
reasonableness. Hence, the need for an active violent 
.revolution, to overthrow the men in possession of power. 
Violence, declared MARX, is the mid-wife of a new social 
order. It is the only means to liquidate all opposition. 
The communist is absolutely distrustful of religion and 
philosophy. MARX has a standing indictment against 
philosophers. * 4 They interpret reality and do not change 
it ". Further the communist believes that religion has 
helped the capitalists to grow stronger, because religion is 
a fine substitute for higher wages. Religion it is declared, 
41 is the soul of the soulless conditions, the heart of the 
heartless world and the opium of the mind. 1 ' The new 
social order of the communists is a paradise where every- 
one will have enough to eat and where hard heads will 
rest on soft pillows. 

(B) There are a great many scientific humanists who 
are not communists. They all want the establishment of 
an eagalatarian society. This they hope to achieve by 
peaceful settlements and not by violence. The Fabian 
socialists and Bertrand RUSSEL belong to this school. 
Through constitutional methods and regional arrangement 
they hope to usher in the New Social Order. The Federal 
Union Society in America and its exponent Clarence K. 
STRElT's WeWs Declaration of the Rights of Man and 



ADVAITA AND THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER 63 

BRAILSFORD'S Towards a $iew League, are some of the 
prominent attempts in this direction. They look forward 
to the establishment of a world state. Some of them 
liave drawn an elaborate constitution for the world state 
that has to emerge. 

(C) Humanists (/other than the communists and 
constitutionalists ) exhort us to lead enlightened lives. 
They hold that the present world is intolerable and in- 
sensitive to values. They plead for the cultivation of 
careful tastes and a calculated indulgence of passions. 
**No God must be cheated and none overpaid.*' We are 
asked to escape to the world of art and poetry as a source 
of relief from the intense boredom of the sickly world. 
They declare ' what else can man do except escape from 
the dreadful world of 1943'. Escapism into literature, 
poetry and art are held as the ideal basis for a new 
social order. 

The theistic religions of the world claim that ad- 
.herence to each of them will bring about the New Social 
'Order. All the denominational religions are intolerant of 
each other, and claim exclusive possession of Truth and 
the means to attain it. Each variety of theism has its own 
prophets and revelation. Each of them holds that 
its religion is true and that of others is false. Hence the 
.antagonism between religions, its crusades and programme 
<of proselytism. The 'affirmative* theologies have allied 
themselves with the state for securing their adherents. 
These theologies in general Declare that the entry into the 
ikingdom of Heaven can only be secured by the grace of 
the Lord through the intermediary, namely -the Prophet. 
Most of these religions hold that other religionists go to 
hell. They divide mankind into the elect and the con- 
demned. Each religion has its own view of life and it 
expects totalitarian loyalty from its members. Human 



64 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

conduct is regulated on the basis of a theory of reward 
and punishment. They paint heaven and hell in deep 
colours. The dogmatic theologians speak in terms of 
certainty about God and His dwelling place. Their God 
is a magnified human person with all the passions of a 
human being. " God is depicted as a father who has His 
favourite children to whom he communicates his mind. 
We have enough such religions'* says SWIFT "to hate one 
other/' 

The political version of these dogmatic religions is 
the totalitarian state. The Fascists and Nazis have their 
supermen who promise their countrymen the establish- 
ment of the millennium. They take the place of the pro- 
phets and the saviours. They demand absolute and 
exclusive loyalty. They substitute for the kingdom of 
Heaven, the glory of an empire, the setting right of an 
injustice or the superiority of a race. The totalitarian 
cults are more fanatical than any religion, They have 
taken advantage of the undermining of men's faith due to 
the advance of scientific materialism and the corruption 
of the churches. They also have known that the human 
need to believe cannot be eradicated. * If man cannot find 
a God in heaven, he must fall down before a God on 
earth. The God on earth turns out to be a HITLER or 
MUSSOLINI or STALIN. They tell us that the task of 
building up a new social order is too much for an ordinary 
man or woman/ We can build the New Social Order 
only by following the leadership of a Fuehrer or a Duce. 
The purpose of Humanity is the noble man or superman 
and others must yield to it. They alone can create and 
rear up a new social order. 

Amidst this welter of secular solutions what chance 
has advaita ? All the secular solutions share one defect 



ADVAITA AND THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER 65 

in common in that they have a partial and defective view 
of man. They believe that man is a body plus a mind. 
They do not take note of the existence of the spirit in 
man that makes his body and mind operate. The scientific 
materialist forgets that the very formulation in intellectual 
terms of his theory is due to the creative power of the 
spirit. Science suffers from some serious limitations and 
it is good that we avow it instead of recklessly repudiating 
it. The category of Mind, Purpose and Value are essen- 
tially qualitative elements. They do not submit them- 
selves to the treatment of the measuring rod and the 
chemical balance. The discovery of most of the important 
scientific theories, on the very admission of the discoverers 
is due to a process that is unique and trans-intellectual. 
The scientific picture of the world leaves out a great deal. 
Reality in actual experience contains intuitions of spirit, 
value and mystical ecstacy. Science does not possess 
intellectual instruments with which to deal with these 
aspects of Reality. The impenitent scientists declare that 
there is no point in life or no purpose at the heart of the 
universe. This declaration arises as a result of the partial 
grasp of Reality. The scientist abstracts a simplified 
private universe possessing such qualities that are 
quantitatively determinable. Hence the incomplete 
picture. 

Besides the inadequate conception of man they have 
as a result of it, a distorted view of the prime object of 
man's life. They are all agreed in asserting that men 
desire pleasure ( their own most often ) and of other 
people sometimes. Such an assertion is hardly fair to 
men and the broad testimony of history does not warrant 
it. The human being is essentially a creature, on the 
border land, he has animal appetites and spiritual yearn- 



66 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

ings 1 . It is partial and defective realism to consider man 
as essentially a mechanical product of several factors. The 
factors are enumerated sometimes in terms of natural 
laws after the manner of the impenitent scientist, and at 
other times in terms of sociological factors. The material- 
ist interpretation of history, the central dogma of the 
communist, asserts that men are products of the environ- 
ment. Morality of man is explained in terms of money 
power. The epithet 'dialectical' to the word Materialism' 
does not in any way mitigate its allegiance to deter- 
minism. 

To represent man as a product of forces is to deny 
him his autonomy and to ignore the imperishable spirit 
in him. It is too much to assert that man lives by bread 
alone. It is nothing short of a caricature to depict men 
as being determined by money power. ** Xerxes had no 
lack of food or raiments or wives when he embarked 
upon the Athenian expedition. St. Francis and Ignatius 
Loyola had no need to found orders to escape from 
want". 

Constitutional arrangements and large-scale social 
and economic reforms on psychological analysis prove to 
be failures unless the individuals are re-made. Large- 
scale social reforms do not abolish evil at its source ; 
they deflect evil from one channel into another. If we 
are keen to establish ends, we must do something more 
positive than merely deflect evil. Evil must be suppress- 
ed in the individual's will. That is why it is necessary 
to re-make men. " Constitutions 11 , as Plato observed, 
** are not born out of rocks but out of the dispositions o 



1 MONTAIGNE : We are I know not how, double in ourselves, so 
that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what 



we condemn. 



ADVAITA AND THE NEW SOCIAL ORDER $7 

men." What we need is the exacting task of the re- 
making of man, and not exciting social experiments. 

The humanists that take their refuge from the ills of 
life in the worlds of art and poetry can never find their 
rest. Man is a many-levelled being. The intellectual and 
the aasthetic in him are not the ultimate. Intellect is just 
like other physical sense organs and is bound by the law of 
decay. So it is the insufficiency of courage that makes us 
take to art and literature. In the words of a professor of 
literature, poetry and art only reveal the antinomies of 
emotion, while religion transcends them. Poetry con- 
serves values as well as the apparent individualities, and 
religion surrenders them at the feet of God. Art, poetry 
and music reveal the rainbow colours of creation ; 
Religion seeks the white radiance of eternity. As an 
English mystic poet put it, Poetry cannot save the soul 
but can make it worth saving. Poetry is the portal to 
religion. 

The denominational religions can at best be used as a 
means or step to the spiritual religion of advaita. 
Sahkara admits that man is essentially a many-levelled 
being and the ultimate nature of man is existence, know- 
ledge and bliss. On account of the presence and function, 
ing of maya man deludes himself into the belief that his 
interest is opposed to that of his neighbour. He believes 
that he is a body and mind, a separatist element in the 
world of claims and counter-claims. The separatist feel- 
ing must go before the idea of a common humanity is 
realised. This realisation is essentially a unique expe- 
rience. It is the birth-right of every individual. The 
derelict and the sinner are. not lost to the spirit. Advaita 
equates intolerance with irreligion. The spiritual expe- 
rience as pure spirit is not something that is derived from 
an alien source. Spiritual realisation is not something 



<>8 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

that is derivative. It is intrinsic. It is self-manifest and 
does not rest on the acceptance of any authority. The 
advaitin believes rightly that men who have this spiri- 
tual experience alone can have the necessary strength to 
create a new social order. It transforms the very dimen- 
sions of our life. It is this spiritual experience that 
enabled a Buddha, a Jesus and a Sahkara to establish the 
kingdom of Heaven. Spiritual realisation is not a distant 
place of resort, but is the realisation of the imperish- 
able in man. The kingdom of Heaven cometh not by 
observation, but is within us. That is why the gospel 
asks us to " seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all 
the other things will be added unto you." Without this 
realisation we can never have the necessary conviction 
and strength to work for humanity. This experience 
makes us feel the truth of the statement that 'there 
can be no happiness for any of us, until it is won for all'. 
The religion of advaita does not make us give up the 
religions in which we are born but asks us to vitalise the 
one in which we are. Advaita is not opposed to other 
religions but transcends them. It points out to men that 
the fate with which they are faced is not an external one, 
but is what is within them. It encourages men by assuring 
them that they are not unequipped for the battle of 
overcoming it. It is such a spiritual religion that can 
usher in the New Social Order. Dogmatic theologies of 
the West or East, and denominational religions do not 
cut much ice or satisfy the modern outlook. If we are to 
be saved from the chaos of despair, the semi-comforting 
creed of humanism, the escapism of art and literature, 
Advaita is the only sane religion left to us. 



CHAPTER V 

The Philosophy of Ramanuja 

The most important and representative school of 
theistic vedanta is the philosophy of visistadvaita 
propounded by the Alvars and elaborated and systematised 
by Ramanuja. A number of god-intoxicated men who 
lived before Ramanuja have recorded their experience of 
the fellowship with the Lord in their songs. The collec- 
tion of these songs is just a little over four thousand. It 
goes under the name of Prabandha. The last thousand 
of the four thousand songs is held in great importance. 
It has been elaborately commented on by many. In 
Vaisnava^ parlance it is called the Bhagavad visayam. 
These Alvars are drawn from various classes of 
men. Some of the prominent of them are Poyigai, 
Peyalvar, Tirumalasai, Nammalvar and Kulasekhara. One 
of them is a woman named Andal. She describes her 
divine marriage with the Lord in her songs. Seven of them 
were Brahmins and two were Sudras and one of them 
belonged to the so-called low caste. They lived roughly 
between the seventh and the ninth centuries. 

The Alvars are poet-philosophers who sang their 
way to the Lord. They were inspired by their mystic 
experience to sing the glory of the Lord. To them, God 
was not a theoretical abstraction, but a fact of experience. 
To them the reality of God was as much a fact as the 
green leaf is to the Botanist. They do not so much teach 
a doctrine as communicate an experience. The main 
theme of the songs is the glory and the greatness of the 



70 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Lord and His presence in all things. They hold with 
Wordsworth 'that every common bush is afire with god'. 
Salvation, the Alvars held, can only be attained by service 
to Humanity as an offering to the Lord and the conse- 
quent grace of the Lord. 1 A particular section holds the 
view that there is no need for any effort on the part of 
man to attain the Lord. The grace of the Lord is un- 
conditional and all-comprehensive. Legend has that these 
Alvars are the incarnations of the ornaments of Lord 
Visnu. One important section of Ramanujites called 
Tengalais place a great deal of reliance on the songs of the 
Alvars. 

Ratnanuja like Sahkara has commented on the 
vedanta sutras. His commentary goes by the name 
Sri Bhasya. It has been commented on by Sudarsana 
Suri in his book Srutaprakasika. Ramanuja commented 
on the Gita and some select passages from the 
Upanisads. He freely handles in his writings the 
images and arguments of the Alvars who inspired him. 
The most prominent post-Ramanuja thinker is Vehkata- 
natha better known as Vedanta Desika (circa 1350 A. D.) 
He was a many-sided scholar and the most eminent of the 
visistadvaita dialecticians. Chief among his works are an 
incomplete gloss on Sri bhasya tattva-tika and the gloss 
on the Gita-bhasya i. e., Tatparya candrika. His vigorous 
attack on Advaita is set forth in his Sata-dusam. 

I 

Like all the systems of Indian philosophy, Visist- 
advaita also makes clear its epistemological presupposi- 



i See Prahlada'a Prayer, " Na tvahaih Kamaye rSjyath, na 
nSpunarbhavarh KSmaye, dukhataptanaih PrS^inam 
5rtin3sanarh ". 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 71 

tions. 1 Knowledge for this school is a relation between 
the kndwer and the object known. The self as such does 
not directly come into contact with the object. An in- 
separable attribute called dharmabhuta jnana starts from 
the soul, reaches the manas and then through the senses 
establishes contact with the objects and takes their form. 
Thus knowledge is produced. Knowledge always has a 
corresponding object. There is no objectless cognition. 
Further the cognition of an object without attributes 
is a fiction. No non-qualified object serves as the 
content of a cognition. They do not admit the 
bare cognition or the nirvikalpaka perception of the 
Nyaya school. The determinate (savikalpaka) perception 
according to Rannanuja is the cognising of the 
new in the light of the old. It is not cognition of the 
attributes of the object, which have not been cognised in 
the first stage of the perception. Ramanuja accepts three 
distinct Pramanas : perception, inference, and verbal 
testimony. All the other pramanas, analogy, (upatnana), 
presumption (arthapatti), and subsumption (sambhava) 
are included under inference. 2 

The vedas are held to be apauruseya (not the result 
of human composition). The entire veda is purportful 
and there is no discontinuity between the karma 
kanda and the jnana kanda. Ramanuja treats the 
pancaratra agama as an authoritative work. Ramanuja's 
theory of truth and error is unique. On scriptural 
authority Ramanuja admits that the constituent ele- 
ments of every object is found in every other object. 



1 For a running account of Sri RSmSnuja's system see S. N*. 
DAS QUPTA's History of Indian Philosophy, Vol. III. 

2 For a lucid account of RSmSnuja's Theory of Knowledge see 
Dr. K 0. VARADACHARl's book, Ramanuja^ Theory of Knowledge. 



72 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

According to his view, all the objects of this visible 
world are compounds containing all the five elements 
in varying proportion. The realism of Ramanuja's logic 
is thorough-going. "What exists alone can be cognised, 
and that knowledge in the absence of a real object 
corresponding to its content is inconceivable." Even for 
the content of a delusive cognition, there is the corres- 
ponding object in the external world. Without such an 
object cognition as such is impossible. From this it 
follows that there is no absolutely delusive cognition. By 
delusive cognition, Ratnanuja means that things are not 
cognised in their respective proportions. When the 
cognitions of mirage and shell-silver are declared to be 
false, what we have to understand by it is, not that the 
water and silver are not present there, but that they are 
not present in that proportion and quantity as can be put 
to practical use. Validity depends not only on corres- 
pondence but on its being adaptable to practical use in 
life ( vyavaharanugunatva ). This doctrine is called 
satkhyati. Ramanuja's theory of truth is in some respects 
akin to pragmatism. 

II 

The metaphysics of Ramanuja is a bold attempt to 
reconcile the One with the Many. Sahkara stressed the 
reality of the One Brahman nd explained the many as 
the illusory manifestations of the one, due to the func- 
tioning of maya. The many are the superimpositions 
laid on Brahman by the nescience delimited soul on the 
analogy of the delusive perception of the snake in the 
rope. The many according to advaita are non-different 
from Brahman. Ramanuja wanted to stress the reality 
of the many as well as the One. The one real Brahman 
contains the many real entities. The many are not the 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 73 

illusory manifestations of the one but are in an- insepar- 
able relation of dependence, on the One. In the words 
of Max MULLER, Ratnanuja attempts to give the soul 
back to the vedantins. The soul is lost in Brahman 
according to advaita. The reality of the many does not 
militate against the reality of the one. Ramanuja's specific 
contribution to philosophy is the relation which he 
describes as existing between tha One and the many. 

The world of souls and matter are treated as attri- 
butes ( Visssanas ) to Brahman. Brahman is not an attri- 
buteless homogeneous stuff of consciousness. He is a 
supra-personality ( purusottama ). He is endowed with 
an infinite number of auspicious attributes. He is all- 
pervading, all-powerful, all-knowing and all-merciful. 
His nature is fundamentally antagonistic to evil. His 
chief attributes are the world of souls ( cit ) and the 
world of matter ( acit ). He is the fundamental sub- 
stance ( visesya ) and cit and acit ate his prime 
attributes (visesanas). Viewed as a complex whole 
( vaisistya drstya ) the Brahman is one and without a 
second (advitlya ). From this point of view, Ramanuja's 
system is monistic. Viewed from the point of view of the 
attributes ( visesanas ), they are different from Brahman 
but all the time dependent on and inseparable from Him. 
The separateness and plurality of the souls persist along 
with their dependence on God. Dependence on God 
does not go against their separateness. The cit and the 
acit are described as the body of the Lord. They are 
called the prakaras ( outer courts ). In the terse 
words of Prof. HlRlYANNA the Brahman of Ramanuja "is 
an organic unity in which, as in all living organisms one 
element predominates over and controls the rest/' The 
subordinate elements are termed visesanas and the predo- 



74 THE SCHOOLS OF VJJAMIA 

tninent element visesya. Because the visesanas cannot by 
hypothesis exist by themselves separately, the complex 
whole ( visista ) in which they are included is described 
-as a unity. Hence the name Visistadvaita 1 . 

Reality according to Ramanuja is not a bare identity* 
it is an identity-in-difference. But the difference is not 
unreal. The identity element holds the difference in 
'Check and makes for unit;?. The unity of Ramanuja 
admits the co-ordination of identity and differ- 
ence. The world of souls and matter are co-eternal 
with God, but not external to Him. 2 

According to Ramanuja, the relation between these 
three entities Matter, souls and God is unique. The 
relation is called aprthaksiddhi relation. It is not to be 
confused with the Nyaya concept of a similar relation, 
.samavaya. Samavaya, is an independent category. The 
aprthaksiddhi relation is an internal one. It maintains 
distinction between entities that are in intimate relation 
to each other. 

The Brahman according to Ramanuja is supra- 
personal entity and is the abode of auspicious attributes. 
He is the inner ruler immortal. The entire structure of 
vis'isfadvaita theism is built on the antar-yamin concept 
{ the indweller ). The Antaryami Brahmaria of the 
Srhadaranyaka 3 Upanisad is the fundamental text for 
Ramanuja. The concept that God is the indweller of all 
things on earth is well brought out. The scriptural texts 
;that deny predicates to Brahman are interpreted by 



1 Prof. HlRIY ANNA'S Outlines of Indian Philosophy, p. 399. 

2 Prof. P. N. SRINIVASACHAR'S Ramftnuja's Idea of the Finite 
.Self, Chaps. II and III. 

a See Brhadaraijyaka III, VII, Taittiriya Sranyaka, XI. 20, Tait- 
*iriya, Upanisad, II, 6, Mun<Jaka, II, 1, 4, and ChSndogya V, XVIII, 3. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 75 

Ramanuja as denying finite and non-auspicious (heya) 
attributes. The despair expressed by some texts in respect 
of their capacity to comprehend Brahman does not mean 
that Brahman is unknowable. It means that so vast 
is the glory of Brahman, that it cannot be completely 
and adequately comprehended by scriptural statements. 

Through the establishment of the organic relation 
between God on one side and Matter and soul on the 
other, Ramanuja established the immanence of the Lord. 
In ( the state of ) pralaya ( dissolution ) the world of 
matter and souls remains in a subtle form in the Lord. 
This aspect of the Lord is called the karanavastha, (casual 
state ). In the karyavastha, the effect stage, the world of 
souls gets attached to matter and is said to be born. 
From this it follows that the effect is not something 
which is entirely different from the cause. The cause itself 
gets transformed into the effect. This is called parina- 
mavada. 

Ill 

The moment that parinama (change) is admitted, 
there is the doubt, as to whether God himself changes 
into the world of objects and souls. If he does change then, 
does that not affect His nature and taint him. Ramanuja 
avoids these defects and still maintains the concept 
of change. This he does with the help of the category 
of the dharmabhuta jnana ( attributive knowledge ), 
The souls as well as God do not change themselves. 
They are of the nature of the jnana ( knowledge ) which 
is called the substantive jnana Besides this, the souls 
as well as the Lord have an attribute called dharmabhuta 
jnana (attributive jnana ) which is a substance as well as 
an attribute. It is a substance in the sense that it 
undergoes change and produces effects of which it is the 



76 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

material cause. It is not inert matter. It manifests all 
other objects, but it is incapable of manifesting its 
own self. What it manifests is never for itself but 
always for another, It is this dharmabhuta jnana that 
operates through the help of the manas and gives us 
knowledge. It is not only knowledge that is regarded 
as a modification of dharmabhuta jnana ; internal states 
like desire and aversion are also its transformations. 1 
The Lord does not change, neither does the soul change. 
It is this attribute jnana that changes. Hence there is 
no necessity for the pannarna of God. Here it is a little 
difficult to admit that God does not change, but this 
attribute changes. The change in the attribute is said 
not to taint the Lord, nor affect him in any way. Thus 
Ramanuja steers clear ofparinama, and vivartavada. 

IV 

The Lord is the supreme Reality and all other facts 
are dependent on him. Every word in the veda has for 
its plenary significance the Lord. It is only in a second- 
ary sense, the words refer to the things of the world. 
This deeper significance of word is called vedanta 
vyutpatti. Besides the Lord, His wife LaksmI is held by 
the Tehgalai sect to be as important as the Lord in 
respect of securing moksa. The Vadagalai sect puts 
LaksmI, on a subordinate plane and gives the Lord a 
greater importance than her. Laksml represents the 
grace principle. She pleads for the extenuation of the 
rigour of the law of righteousness. If the souls of 
the world are to be judged by the strict standards of 
the Lord, there would not be the possibility of 
salvation for any. It is through the mediation of 



1 Prof. HlRlYANNA, Outlines of Indian philosophy, pp. 386-389. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 77 

Laksmi that the law of karma is a little softened and 
the krpa ( compassion ) element is introduced. The 
place of Laksmi in vi'sistadvatta is the same as the place 
of Jesus in the Christian theory of salvation. 

The entire world of Reality according to Ramanuja's 
scheme of categories can be divided into substances and 
attributes. They are called dravyas and adravyas. There 
are ten adravyas enumerated. They are the five quali- 
ties of the five elements (1) sound, (2) touch, (3) colour, 
(4) taste, (5) odour ; the three gunas sattva, rajas 
and tamas. These go to constitute prakrti. Potency and 
samyoga are also comprised under adravyas. Besides ten 
adravyas there are six dravyas. The six dravyas can be 
classified under two heads, the material and the non- 
material. Among the non-material entities are (1) jiva 
(2) God (3) J^itya vibhuti and (4) Dharma-bhuta jnana. 
Prakrti and Time constitute the material variety of the 
dravyas. 

Prakrti according to Ramanujas is characterised by 
three gunas, saliva, rajas and tamas. They are insepar- 
able from prakrti but still they are distinct. It has a 
limited jurisdiction and stops with the border line of 
nityavibhuti, which is under the control of the Lord. 

Time and space ( kala and dik ) are treated different- 
ly. Time is real for Ramanuja. It is not outside Brahman 
but it is within. It is also under the control of the Lord. 
Space is derived from prakrti and prakrti is prior to space. 

Nitya vibhuti is super-prakrti and it contains 
sattva element to the exclusion of all others. It is the 
matter with which the ideal world is constructed i. e. 
Vaikunthathe city of God. 



78 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 



Souls ( jlvas ) are of three types : those that are 
bound like us ( baddhas ), those that are liberated 
( muktas ), and those that are eternally free ( nkya). 
Tradition has it that over a hundred and three souls are 
eternally free. The Lord manifests himself for the good 
of his bhaktas (devotees) in five forms. The first form is 
called para i. e., the divine effulgent personality of 
Narayana in Vaikunta. The vyuha form is the form of 
the Lord in the ocean of milk (Ksirasamudra). The 
vibhava form is the incarnation of the Lord as Rama 
and Krsna etc. The antaryamin form is the indwell- 
ing form in the hearts of men. The last form is in 
the images ( arcavatara ) that are found in some sacred 
places such as Tirupati, Kanci, Srirahgam. These idols 
are self-created and hence very sacred. 

For -the individual soul to attain mukti he must 
have devotion for the Lord. Devotion to the Lord is, 
born from the performance of scripture-ordained duties. 
Hence the necessity for karma. Ramanuja believes that 
the chapters dealing with karma are not opposed to 
jnana. Karma is not only necessary in the preparatory 
stage, but also subsequently. But more than all these 
bhakti is held out as the true way to the Lord. The 
innumerable verses of the Gita speak of the glory of 
bhakti and of the assurance the Lord gives His bhaktas* 
But the bhakti of Ramanuja is not a very easy path. One 
has to cultivate an interest in things divine and an apathy 
for things not divine. The aspirant needs an elaborate 
preparation for bhakti 1 . The preparation includes (1) 



i Mahatma GANDHI'S pet song gives in a nut-shell the attributes 
of an ideal bhakta of Visnu. It is from the pen of the Gujarati poet 
Narasimha Mehta : (contd. on next page) 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 79 

discrimination of food (viveka), freedom from all else and 
longing for God (vimoka), continuous thinking of God 
(abhyasa), doing good to others (kriya) wishing well to 
all (kalyana), truthfulness (satya), integrity of character 
(arjava), compassion for others ( daya), non-violence 
(ahirhsa ) t charity (dana) and cheerfulness and hope 
(anavasada). 1 Fortified with such ethical excellence, the 
soul should meditate on the Lord with the full knowledge 
of the relation that exists between the Lord and himself 
i. e. that the Lord is the ruler, controller and the sustain- 
er of the soul. 

VI 

This grand ideal of bhakti is prescribed for the first 
three castes, and it is not without difficulties. This fact 
has been appreciated by Ramanuja and so he propounds 
his famous doctrine of prapatti. This is a resolute act of 
surrender of our will to the Lord. This act of self- 
surrender should be done with the absolute faith that 
god will protect us. This is saranagati. Lord Krsna 
in the Gita advocates this. He tells Arjuna 'surrender 
all duties and come unto me for shelter. Do not grieve, 



"He is a true Vaisnava who knows and feels another's woes as his 
own, Ever ready to serve, never boasts. He bows to everyone and 
despises no one, keeping his thought, word and deed pure. Blessed 
is the mother of such a one, he reveres every woman as his mother. 
He keeps a equal mind, and does not stain his lips with false-hood ; 
nor does he touch another's wealth. No bonds of attachment can hold 
him, ever in tune with Ramana"ma his body possesses in itself all places 
of pilgrimage. Free from greed and deceit, passion and anger this 
is the true Vaisnava. 

Asramabhajanavali p. 176. 

i S. RADHAKRISHNAN, Indian Philosophy, Vol. II. p, 704. 



SQ THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

for I will release thee from all sins/ 1 Vibhisana's 
surrender to the Lord is a typical act of prapatti. This 
act has to be done with the help of a priest before the 
idol in a holy place. After this act which is within the 
reach of one and all, the individual need hardly 
bother himself about his future. 2 So great has to be the 
faith in this that the tengalai school holds the view 
that the act of prapatti should not be repeated at nil. 
Further, the Lord is held by the tengalai section to 
be all-loving and that his grace is secured to the indivi- 
dual without any attempt on the part of the aspirant 
(nirhetuka kataksa): this view is called the Marjara- 
kisoranyaya. The Vadagalai section holds the view 
that the aspirant must make himself a fit receptacle 
for the grace of the Lord. They hold that the grace of 
the Lord is not so unconditional ; this view is called the 
Marakatakisoranyaya. It is not given to all and sundry. 
But this does not mean that moksa is secured by mere 
individual effort. 

The immanence of the Lord does not militate against 
the necessity for the law of karma. Karma does not 
go against the omnipotence of the Lord. 'If the law of 
karma is independent of God then God's absoluteness 
is compromised. The critic who declares that there is no 
room for an independent God as well as for the law of 
the karma does not understand the Hindu idea of God. 
The law of karma expresses the will of God. The order 
of karma is set up by God, who is the director of karma. 
Since the law is dependent on God's nature, God himself 



1 Oita XVIII, 16. 

2 See Ramayana VI, 18, 33 and 34, where Rama proclaims : 
Sakrdeva prapannaya tav5srnlti ca yScate abhayaih sarvabhutebhyo 
dadSmyetad vratam mama. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMANUJA 81 

may be regarded as rewarding the righteous and punish- 
ing the wicked. 1 The same idea is expressed in a 
different manner when we say that God does not suspend 
the law of karma. 

The soul that desires to surrender himself to God has 
to make a resolve to follow the will of God, not to cross 
His purpose, to believe that He will save, to seek help 
from Him and Him alone, and to yield up one's spirit to 
Him in all meekness. The secret of Prapatti is the 
complete crucifixion of the ego at the feet of the Lord, 
It is this complete act of self-surrender that results in 
the remaking of man 2 . 

Among the released souls some desire to stay per- 
petually in the presence of the Lord, and others with a 
view to save society, come down to the earth to preach 
the love of the Lord and wean men from their wicked 
ways. 

Sri Ramanuja's philosophy appeals to the mass of 
men and fills the heart of men with hope and gives the 
aspirant the solace and the grace of a personal God. 



i Prof. S. RADHAKRISHNA.N, Indian Philosophy, Vol. II, p. 694. 
* St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians says, " Thou fool 
that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die". 

Christ said "you must be reborn again". 



CHAPTER VI 
The Philosophy of Madhva 

The most ^powerful philosophic attack on the 
monism of Sri Saftkara is from Sri Madhva. Madhva's 
Dvaita Vedanta is a pluralistic, theistic and realistic 
system. He derives most of his philosophical doctrines 
from the triple texts, ( the Gita, Vedanta Sutras and the 
Upanisads). He openly declares in many of his works 
that he is the chosen prophet of Lord Visnu commis- 
sioned to interpret correctly the sacred texts and 
refute the mis-interpretations foisted thereon by other 
commentators. Tradition holds the view that Madhva 
is the third incarnation of Vayu, and that Vayu appeared 
as Hanuman and Bhima in his two incarnations. 
Throughout his works Madhva speaks after the manner 
of a Messiah with a mission. 

Like all the other traditional acaryas Madhva has 
commented on the triple texts. He wrote two comment- 
aries on the Vedanta sutras as well as the Gita. One of 
the commentaries on the Vedanta sutras is in verse 
the Anuvyakhyana. Besides the commentaries on the 
triple texts, he has ten small independent tracts (pra- 
karanas) explaining the different tenets of his system. 1 
He has written a great deal besides these works. He 
has on the whole thirty-seven works to his credit, some 
of them being devotional hymns. The works include a 



l Dr. K. Nagaraja SARMA'S Book 'Reign of Realism ' is an 
exposition of the ten prakaranas of Madhva. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MADHVA 83 

summary account of the Mahabharata and a commentary 
on the Bhagavata. It is claimed that he wrote his Bhasya 
.after an interview and at the command of Badarayana. 
Hence it is asserted to be authoritative. 

The most prominent post-Madhva thinkers are Jaya- 
tlrtha, Vyasaraja and Raghavendra. Jayatlrtha's contri- 
bution to Dvaita is unique. He has commented on all 
the works of Madhva excepting a few easy works. He 
is called the Tikacarya ( the commentator ) of Dvaita 
vedanta. His masterpiece is his Nyayasudha, a detailed 
running commentary on Madhva's Anuvyakhyana. It is 
over six hundred pages in length. It is a mistake to call 
it a commentary. It is the best work on Madhva's 
philosophy. There is no aspect of Madhva's doctrine 
that this classic does not discuss. He renounced the 
world at a very young age and within a period of thirty 
years raised Dvaita vedanta to a level of sastraic 
equality with Advaita. As a dialectician, his powers are 
most astounding ; " for beauty of language, brilliance of 
style, keenness of argument, fairness in reasoning, for 
refreshing boldness, originality of treatment and fineness 
of critical acumen, he has few equals". He belongs to the 
^roup of great philosophical prose-writers which includes 
Sankara, Sahara and Vacaspati. 

Vyasaraja was the great logician of Dvaita vedanta. 
He fought the scholastic battle with the Advaitin with 
,great vigour. In his famous Nyayamrta he has examined 
all the possible ^arguments put forward in favour of 
advaita by post-Sahkara thinkers, and has refuted them 
in detail. The whole work teems with logical skill. 
Besides this he has to his credit the polemical treatise 
on the dialectic of difference entitled Bhedojfivana. 
Though he used logic as an instrument to demolish 



84 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

rival systems, he did not spare the Nyaya school. In his 
Tarkatandava he has refuted in detail many a doctrine of 
the Nyaya system. Lastly, he wrote a brilliant com- 
mentary on Madhva's Sutra bhasya called Tatparya- 
candrika. This commentary covers the first two chapters 
of the vedanta sutras. 

II 

Like all other systems Dvaita vedanta also has. 
certain epistemological pre-suppositions. Knowledge 
for Madhva is a relation between a knower and an 
object. There is no cognition of a non-existent thing. 
His theory of truth is akin to the correspondence theory 
of the Nyaya school. That jnana, which cognises the 
attributes of an object as it is, is truth. That cognition,, 
which cognises the object other than as it is, is 
error. Even in error there is a presentative counter-part 
to it in the external world. The deluded individual 
mistakes one thing for another. In twilight the shell is 
mistaken for silver. What is shell is taken as silver. 
This doctrine of error is called abhinava anyatha khyati 
(taking one thing as another). The absolutely non- 
existent silver is said to be cognised by the deluded 
individual. The radical realism of Madhva goes to the 
extent of admitting the existence of the cognition of 
absolute-non-existence (atyantasat pratiti). 1 The Nyaya 
school held the view that the silver cognised in the shell 
was present in the shop and was indirectly cognised by 
the perceiver. But Madhva goes a step further and holds 



l See author's article on "Error, doubt, and dream" Journal of 
Oriental Research, Vol. XI, parts 3 and 4. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MADHVA 85 

that the absolute-non-existence of silver itself is cognised 
in the shell. It is the rigour of his realism that is 
responsible for his theory of errorl For Madhva the test 
of truth is the cognition of a thing as it is (yathartham 
pramanam) 1 . He admits three pramanas, perception, 
inference and verbal knowledge and subsumes the rest 
under the three pramanas. Perception is held in great 
regard. It is held to be anupajivya pramana i. e M the 
support of other pramanas. Perception is a primary means 
of knowledge and inference and verbal testimony are 
based on this. Inference involves the knowledge of 
vyapti and vyapti being a relation between two invariable 
things has to be cognised 2 . The relation between word 
and its sense can only be known after cognising the 
word. Hence perception is held to be a very important 
pramana in Dvaita Vedanta. 

As for verbal testimony the vedas (sruti) are held to 
te impersonal and eternal. Madhva's belief in vedas is so 
great that he denies validity even to the Lord's words if 
and when it contradicts the spirit of the Vedas. That is 
why Madhva rejects the Nyaya argument that the vedas 
are written by God. Revelation is the ultimate source 
of divine knowledge. Besides the four Vedas, Madhva 
.accepts the authority of some puranas, pancaratra agamas, 
Mula Ramayana and the epic Mahabharata. Madhva says 
that as a rule those texts that are in accord with the 
prime purport of the vedas are valid and those that are 
opposed to it are invalid. 



1 See author's article on 'Pramana in Madhva' $ epistemology', 
Indian Culture, Jan. 1937. 

2 See author's article on 'Inference in Dvaita Vedanta\ New 
Indian Antiquary, Vol. I, No. 8. 



86 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

He adopts the six strict canons of interpretation 
and derives the doctrines of his system from the Vedas.. 
He leaves out no portion of the veda as non-authoritative, 
He takes the entire veda as implying a single system of 
thought. The central purport of the scripture is that 
Visnu, i.e., Narayana is the supreme Lord of the Universe, 
He is not an attributeless and homogeneous stuff of 
consciousness. He is the abode of infinite auspicious 
attributes. He is a divya mangalavigraha (the most auspi- 
cious form). He is the supreme entity and has none above 
him. He is the sustainer, destroyer, and creator of the 
universe. There is nothing beyond this Saguna Brahman* 
The T^irguna Brahman of advaita is nothing more than the 
void. Those scriptural texts that speak of the Brahman 
as incomprehensible, are to be understood to mean as 
referring to the inexhaustible glory of the Lord, and not 
his unknowability. When the Lord is referred to as being 
devoid of attributes, it means that he is devoid of inaus- 
picious or (prakrta gunas), He is the very embodiment 
of bliss and jnana. 

Next to him in rank is Laksmi. She is also classified 
under the head of the dependants ; but she has no taint 
and no birth like other souls. She also is all-pervasive 
as the Lord. Next to her in rank is Vayu whose third 
incarnation is Madhva. Vayu is the mediator between 
the Lord and other souls. All the souls are to reach the 
Lord only through the worship and mediation of 
Vayu. The Lord says "I take nothing that is not offered 
through Vayu." After Vayu the rest of the gods and 
their wives are arranged in an hierarchy. This is 
technically called the tara-tamyakrama. We are exhorted 
to worship the Lord not merely as a superior to us, but 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MADHVA 87 

as the ruler of all the gods. The other gods are to be 
worshipped according to their ranks as the retinue of the 
Lord. 

The existence of the Lord is established through the 
help of the authority of the scriptures. The scriptures 
refer to Him as the creator, sustainer etc., of the Uni- 
verse. Hence the Universe is held to be real. The 
Universe of souls and matter ( jada jiva prapanca ) is as 
real as Brahman, If it is contended that the whole uni- 
verse is unreal, the creator of such an universe would 
be no master-mind, but would be a mere juggler. The 
unreality of the Universe militates against the omni- 
potence of the Lord. So Madhva is keen on establishing 
the Reality of the Universe. It is his infinite faith in an 
all-powerful Lord that makes him undertake the dialecti- 
cal warfare against the Advaitin's doctrine of maya. 

He examines in great detail the position of advaita 
and points out that doctrine of adhyasa (super-imposition) 
is not demonstrable in terms of any pramana. Madhva 
holds that there is no authority whatsoever for the 
establishment of the doctrine of the illusoriness of the 
Universe. He holds that what the pramanas cannot 
guarantee is not true. 

As against the contention that advaita ascribes 
a relative type of reality to the universe, Madhva argues 
that such an ascription assumes what has yet not been 
proved. The argument would hold water, after the 
Advaitin's establishment of the two degrees of Reality 
and not prior to it. So, Madhva holds that the universe 
of souls and matter are real. 

Ill 

From this we are led to the famous doctrine 
of * difference ' of Dvaita vedanta. The things of 



'88 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

the world are held to be entirely different from one 
another, not only are the things of the world different 
but their attributes too. Difference is foundational to 
reality. If the ultimate reality of the category of differ- 
ence is proved, the pluralistic realism of Madhva is 
automatically established. A scheme of five-fold difference 
is set forth by Madhva. They are : (1) The difference 
between Jiva and Isvara, (2) between jiva and jiva, 
(3) jada (matter) and jada, (4) ja4a and jiva and (5) 
Isvara and ja4a. Most post-Madhva philosophers 
have attempted to prove the ultimate reality of the 
category of difference through the dialectic method with 
the help of inferences. According to Madhva difference 
is of the very nature of the thing ( svarupa J. 1 

The individual souls are held as being eternally 
different and dependant on the Lord. Identity of the 
individual soul with Brahman is not the purport of the 
vedas as Advaita holds. The souls are all dependant on 
the Lord for their salvation. Salvation or mukti means 
the removal from the soul of the sheath of ignorance that 
covers it. Besides this cover, there is another cover, 
which hides the soul from the perception of the Lord. 
The grace of the Lord dawns on the spiritual aspirant and 
at the moment the two covers are removed and the soul 
comes to have a perception of its real svarupa. The 
realisation of one's own svarupa is called liberation 
(moksa) 1 . 

Salvation or moksa is not for one and all. Madhva 
does not believe in the Advaita doctrine of sarvamukti 
( universal salvation ). Many are called, but few are 



* See author's article on "The Category of Difference in Vedanta" 
The Philosophical Quarterly, July 1941. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF MADHVA 89 

^chosen, Those whom it pleases the Lord to save are 
saved. We are not saved because we have merits. 
Salvation involves two factors, the grace of the Lord 
and the merit of the soul. On the part of the soul he 
has to strive hard and achieve the jnana, that Lord 
Visnu is the supreme God and that salvation lies through 
the path Madhva has indicated. Performance of scripture 
ordained duties and intense devotion to the Lord 
are prescribed. But this devotion is not mainly 
emotional. It is the result of detachment to the things 
of the world and attachment to God. Bhakti is defined 
as that kind of attachment to the Lord based on a 
complete understanding of the supremacy of the Lord, 
which transcends the love of one's own self and possess- 
ions and which remains unshaken in death and in 
difficulty. 1 

Such a devotion is not born out of ignorance. It is 
born through detachment and jnana. 

The practice of bhakti saves only a few select indivi- 
duals. All the human souls of the world are broadly 
divided under three heads : (a) Mukti yogya (b) nitya- 
samsarins and (c) tamoyogyas. The classification of 
the souls is based on the intrinsic nature of the souls. 
The sattvika souls are of good nature and they are destined 
to attain moksa i. e., the feet of the Lord. They have 
true knowledge of the nature of the Lord and reach Him 
through their bhakti. The nityasamsarins are of mixed 
nature, and they dangle between heaven and earth. To 
them there is no permanent place of stay. According to 
one section of the followers of Madhva there is a place 
reserved for the nityasamsarins, where they have a sort 



1 See Jayatirtha's NyUya Sudha, p. 18. 



90 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

of experience which is a mixture of pain and pleasure. 
Others hold that there is no such place. The tamoyogyas 
are destined to eternal damnation. Their future is in a 
hell called Andhatamas, from which there is no return 
for them. 

Madhva holds the dogmatic view that the tamoyogya 
souls are never saved at all. The intrinsic nature of 
souls is unalterable. Moral effort and education can 
never alter the svarupa of the soul. The tamoyogya can 
never be changed into a sattva jiva. This doctrine is not 
calculated to egg on individuals to moral enterprise. 
Madhva sets a limit to the abilities of the soul. But it 
must be borne in mind that the svarupa of the soul is 
not known till the time of release. It is in order to make 
each soul perceive its nature that the Lord is said to 
bring the souls into life. God helps each soul to work 
according to its svarupa. 

Even in moksa the individual souls are not all iden- 
tical in respect of the enjoyment of their bliss. They are 
all free from sorrow and from births. There is gradation 
in the enjoyment of their bliss. 

The contention of the Dvaitin against the Advaitin 
can be set forth thus : That the Advaitin's Brahman is 
non-different from the sunya of the Buddhist, (b) that 
the world of matter and souls is ultimately real, (c) that 
the individual souls are absolutely and eternally different 
from and dependant on Brahman, (d) that the Brahman 
of the srutis is not the attributeless ( nirguna ) but is the 
abode of the auspicious attributes, and (e) that the 
import of ^ruti is not in tune with Advaita. 



CHAPTER VII 
The Upanisads 

The Upanisads have been called the 4 Himalayan 
peaks of the Hindu religion*. Just as that great moun- 
tain range determines the climate, the rainfall and the 
physical features of this peninsula, so do these heights of 
wisdom determine the scope and the quality of the 
spiritual life of the races that inhabit it. In point of 
popularity however, the Upanisads come far behind the 
Gita among the Hindu scriptures. While the merit of 
the Upanisads has been acknowledged by our traditional 
commentators and by the best minds of modern Europe* 
it is a pity that these great 'Himalayas of Hindu Poetry* 
have not yet found their due place in modern Indian 
Education. 

The Upanisads are the concluding portions of the 
vedas. Hence they are called vedanta. They are the 
foundations of all the systems of Indian Philosophy, 
'There is no important form of Hindu thought, heterodox 
Buddhism included, which is not rooted in the Upanisads/ 
All the schools of vedanta regard the Upanisads as one 
of their triple scriptural authorities. All the acaryas 
have commented on the ten of the important Upanisads. 1 

European scholars have not failed to perceive the 
great message of the Upanisads. 2 SCHOPENHAUER, the 

1 RSmanuja has not commented on all the ten Upanisads as 
Sankara and Madhva have done. In his vedfirtha Safigraha he has 
commented on select and controversial passages. 

2 Thoreau exhorts men : " Do not read the Times, read the 
eternities" 



92 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

pessimist philosopher held the view that from every 
sentence of the Upanisad, deep, original and sublime 
thoughts arise and that they are pervaded by a high and 
holy spirit of earnestness. He concludes that in the 
whole world of thought there is no study so beneficial 
and elevating as that of the Upanisads and that it is 
'destined sooner or later to become the faith of the 
whole world. Max MULLER observes that the Upanisads 
are like the light of the morning, like the pure air o* 
the mountains, so simple and so true if once understood" 
The message of the Upanisads is not without its lesson 
to the modern world largely governed by the lust for 
dominions and led by brute force. The sages of the Upa- 
nisads have proclaimed for all times that he who sees 
variety and not unity wanders on from death to 
death. 1 

The term Upanisad has been interpreted in a number 
of ways. It means according to Sahkara ' that which 
destroys ignorance and leads to Brahman. Others have 
interpreted the term to mean secret doctrine (rahasya). 
Yet others have rendered the term as * sitting near the 
preceptor to receive spiritual instruction'. The seers of 
the Upanisad after experiencing spiritual truth, imparted 
it to their disciples making sure of the eligibility and the 
earnestness of the aspirant. The method adopted by the 
Upanisadic seers to impart the knowledge of the spirit 
is not a barren dialectic method. With the help of 
powerful images and through the technique of informal 
dialogues they conveyed the truths felt on their 
pulse to their disciples. The Upanisads in fact are a 
collection of parables and dialogues. Their poetic value 

* Katha Upanisad, IV, 11. 



THE UP AN IS ADS 93- 

consists in the richness and the clarity of their suggest- 
ions. The upanisadic rsis were half-poetical and half- 
philosophical in their approach to reality. The vedic 
vision of the seers is the 'poetic testament of a people's 
reaction to the wonder and awe of existence. The won* 
der and the poetry of the vedic hymn is deepened and 
widened by the meditation in the Upanisad 1 . 1 

II 

The Upanisads are interpreted from two points of 
view, theistic and the absolutistic. Both the view-points 
accept the Upanisadic concept of man which is entirely 
different from the Biologist's analysis of man. Man is not 
a mere physical organism. The Upanisads warn us not 
to identify the body ( deha ) with the soul (atman). 
The Greek view that man is a compound of a body plus 
an intellect is also criticised. The intellect according to 
the Upanisads is neither more nor less than a sense organ 
(indriya). Just like other sense organs it too is a com- 
pound of the five elements, with the one difference that 
it is internal. It decays with the body. So it is wrong 
to identify the essential and the abiding in man with 
either the body or the intellect. Man is essentially the 
imperishable soul, which has neither birth nor death* 
The intrinsic form (svarupa) of the soul is jnana. 

So far the theists and the absolutists are agreed.. 
The theists hold the view that the souls are many 
and that there is a super-soul whose grace is essential 
for the salvation of the individual soul. The in^ 
dividual souls find that all the pleasures of the 



i Rabindranath TAGORE's Introduction to the Hindu scriptures 
E. M. L. Series. 



94 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

world are short-lived and do not yield abiding happiness. 
The vedic hymns and sacrifices speak the language of 
utilitarianism. It is governed by the law of rewards and 
punishments. The pleasures of heaven and even of its 
rulership belong to the perishable world. There is 
return from these pleasures as soon as the merit (punya) 
acquired by the individual is exhausted. The stamp of 
mortality is deeply set on them. Hence the Upanisads 
exhort us to attain that state from which there is no 
diminishing of the bliss (ananda). This in technical 
parlance is called moksa. Moksa is distinguished from 
abhyudaya (welfare). "The good is one thing, the pleasant 
is another, and he that wishes to live the life of the 
spirit must leave the sensual life far behind. 1 ' 1 The 
-spiritual aspirant must seek the good (sreyas) and not the 
pleasant (preyas). 

Moksa is the soul's realisation of its intrinsic nature 
through devotion to the Lord. The true nature of the soul 
is lost sight of by individuals on account of the veil of 
Samsara. So they revel in the perishable pleasures of 
life. This veil can be rent apart only by the infinite 
grace of the Lord (Bhagavat prasada). The Lord is the 
supreme purusa. Superior to the pumsa there is nothing. 
That is the goal and the supreme destination. 2 

This supra-personal god ( purusottama) is Brahman. 
He is the abode of an infinite number of auspicious 
attributes. The Upanisads speak of him in some places 
as Truth, Knowledge and Infinitude', 3 and in other places 
as * Truth, Knowledge and Bliss 1 . 4 There is a famous pas- 
sage attributing creation to Him 'that verily from which 



i KathaUpanisad ii, 1. 2 ibid iii, 10 & 11. 

8 Taitt. Upanisad 2. 1. 1. Ibid. 2. 



THE UPANISADS 95 

these beings are born, that by which the beings live, that 
into which when departing they enter, seek to know 
that, i. e., Brahman. 1 He is referred to as the 'omniscient' 
and the 'all-knower'. 2 He is the efficient cause of the 
world and not its material cause. He never becomes the 
world of objects and undergoes change. God is immanent 
as well as transcendent. He is the inner-ruler 
( antaryamin ) of all the souls and the things of the world. 
The all pervading nature of the Lord is described as 
follows : 'by the Lord is encompassed all that there is in 
this world'. 3 His immanence is the theme of a number 
of passages * that which is the ear of the ear, the mind of 
the mind, the speech indeed of the speech, the breath of 
the breath and the eye of the eye 1 . 4 ' Subtler than the 
subtle, grosser than the gross, the Lord is conceived in 
the cave of the heart 1 . 5 The Upanisads speak of Him as 
the chief realicy 'the eternal among the eternals, the 
intelligent among the intelligent beings, the one among 
the many, he who grants desires'. 6 The Upanisads con- 
clude * the word which all the vedas declare, that which 
all the penances proclaim, and desiring which people lead 
an austere life, that word I tell thee in brief ; it is the 
Lord'.* 

The performance of scripture-ordained duties and 
uninterrupted devotion to the Lord are the means to 
salvation according to theists. Bhakti i. e. devotion to 
the Lord is the boat with which samsara has to be crossed. 
An intense realisation of our creatureliness is necessary 



i Taitt. Upanisad 3. 1. 2 Muijd. Upanisad I. 9. 

3 Isa. ' 1. * Kena. 12. 

s Ibid II. 20. Katha. V. 13. 

7 Ibid II. 15. 



96 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

to moksa. An unremitting moral life, without the desire 
for the fruits of the activity, free from the sense of 
egoity and agency in actions, are characteristics ofabhakta. 
Every activity and the fruits of it must be surrendered 
to the Lord* Self-surrender without any reservation is 
the sine qui non of a Bhakta. This by itself does not 
entitle one to moksa. Moksa is not the keeping up 
of a contract. It is a gift, a product. With all the 
moral activity and sense of surrender on the part of the 
devotee, it is open to the Lord to deny moksa. It is 
His gift. The prime cause of moksa is Isvara's grace. His 
grace is the source of the gift. The Upanisad states * not 
through much learning is atman reached, not through the 
intellect, or the sacred teaching. It is reached by the 
chosen of Him. To his chosen the atman reveals His 
glory 1 . 1 It is a case where many are called but few are 
chosen. 

The moment the spiritual aspirant has the immediate 
vision of the Lord the scales fall from his eyes and he 
realises the real nature of the soul. With the vision of 
the Lord ' the fetters of the heart are broken, and all 
doubts are dissolved 1 . 2 We should not lose sight of the 
fact, that though the soul in its released state is not 
subject to suffering and sorrow it is still in no sense 
the equal of the Lord. Creatureliness differentiates the 
soul from the Lord. 

To the theistic interpreters of the Upanisads the 
world of plurality is as real as Brahman. It is the mani- 
festation of the power of the Lord. It is his creative 
energy (Ilia ). The problem of the evil does not deeply 



Kath. Upanisad II, 23. * Mund. Upanisad II, 8. 



THE UPANISADS 97 

disturb the theists. Things look evil because, we view 
them sub specia temporis. The acceptance of the existence 
of evil does not militate against the omnipotence and 
goodness of the Lord. "This is the best of all possible 
worlds" because God created it. 1 

Ill 

Side by side with the theistic interpretation of the 
Upanisads, we have the mighty tradition of the absolutist 
interpretation of Sahkara. Several passages in the 
Upanisads lend themselves to this view. There are a 
number of aphoristic statements which according to 
Sahkara bring out the true import of the scripture. 
Scriptural statements that speak of a plurality of souls, 
the reality of this universe, and the inalienable difference 
between the souls and Brahman, are treated as the state- 
ment or the amplification of the case to be refuted by the 
monistic arguments. The terse statements that identify 
the supreme reality with the individual self are said to be 
the true conclusion of the Upanisads. They are 4 I am 
Brahman', 2 That thou art', 3 l this soul is Brahman, 4 
*A11 this is Brahman/ 5 'consciousness is Brahman'. 



1 See Tagore's Sadhana, Chap. III. Problem of Evil. He holds 
that it does credit to God to have created men with Free will and 
Evil, than to have manufactured perfected robots. Evil helps to 
school the soul into perfection. Keats describes life ' as a vale of 
tears * in which we must learn the ' art of soul-making*; Mahatma 
GANDHI'S answer is typical of the theists. He said " I cannot 
account for the existence of evil by any rational method, to want to 
do so is to be co-equal with God." 

2 Br. Upanisad I, 4, 10. Ch. Upanisad VI, VIII, 7. 
* Br. Upanisad II, 5, 9. 5 Mund. Upanisad II, II, 11. 

7 



98 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

These short statements have no padding, no gagging, 
cliche, but they are the report of the experience of the 
seers. They are like tense and brief messages sent from 
sinking ships or isolated forces. 

Reality according to the Absolutist view is Existence* 
Knowledge and Bliss. There is nothing besides this 
central Reality, and from this hypothesis it follows that 
Brahman cannot be characterised in terms of anything 
other than itself. Hence it is declared to be self-luminous 
( svaprakasa ). * Nor does the sun shine there, nor the 
moon and the stars, nor do these lightnings shine;, 
whence then this light ? Him alone, as he shines, does 
everything else shine after. By His lustre does all this 
shine distinctly 1 . 1 Any description of Brahman, in terms 
other than itself, is logically unintelligible. Passages that 
describe Brahman as knowledge. Truth and Bliss are 
interpreted by Sahkara in the light of an appositional 
construction. The statements do not mean Brahman has 
knowledge, bliss etc. It means Brahman is knowledge, 
Brahman is bliss etc. The import of the predicate is the 
establishment of the identity with the subject. The 
Upanisadic passages describe Brahman in negative terms 
neti neti ( not this, not that ). He is said to be described 
without words ( avacanena, provaca ). The logic behindr 
this type of description is as follows. All our human , 
knowledge expresses itself in terms of a relation that 
exists between the kno wer and a known object. Brahman 
can never become an object of knowledge, as it is 
impartite and there is nothing besides it. Mediated 
knowledge of it is necessarily incomplete" knowledge. 
Hence Upanisads express their inability to describe' 

i Katha Upamsad V, 15. 



THE UPANISADS 99 

Brahman : 'Words and mind go to Him not, and return. 
But he who knows the joy of Brahman fears no more 1 . 1 

The inability to describe Brahman has lead the 
Upanisads to refer to Him in paradoxical terms. 'It 
moves, it moves not, it is far and near, it is inside all this; 
and it is outside of all this 1 . Another Upanisad describes it 
as "other than the known, verily it is and also above the 
unknown; thus we have from the ancients, who have 
discriminated it for us. What cannot be expressed 
through speech and whereby speech is expressed, that 
alone know ye as Brahman, not this which people 
worship 1 . 1 

The negative description of Brahman does not imply 
its non-existence. A host of critics have charged 
Sahkara's interpretation as leading to nihilism (a variety 
of Buddhism). Such charge is hardly fair to Sankara. Ir> 
the words of RADHAKRISHNAN, the negative definitions 
of Brahman refer to the distance between time and 
eternity, Appearance and Reality. Though the nature 
of the supreme is unknowable in terms of intellectual 
categories, yet it can be realised by spiritual effort and 
discipline. 

The absolutists hold the view that the world of 
plurality which we cognise together with the empirical 
selves is an illusory manifestation of Brahman. This is 
due to the functioning of a fundamental, beginningless 
and positive nescience (maya). Maya suppresses the real 
i. e., Brahman and shows up in its place the many. All 
of us are Brahmans, but on account of the functioning of 
nescience we identify ourselves with so many limitations. 
As long as limitation persists we will have the cognition 



Taitt. Upanisad II, 9. 2 Kena Upanisad I, 4, 5 & 6. 



100 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

of the many. It is this limitation that is responsible for 
our sorrows. This illusory manifestation of the one as the 
many is explained in vedanta on the analogy of the 
delusive cognition of a rope as a snake in twilight. 

In the famous sixth chapter of the Chandogya 
Upanisad the seer Uddalaka gives instruction to his son 
Svetaketu 'my dear son, as by one clod of clay, all that is 
made of clay is known, the difference being only in name, 
arising from speech, but the truth being all is clay. By 
one nugget of gold all that is made of gold is known, the 
difference being only a name, arising from speech, but the 
truth being all that is is gold'. After this the venerable 
father with nine apt examples illustrates the fundamental 
truth that the individual soul essentially is non-different 
from Brahman. The separatist feeling is due to delusion, 
which gives rise to the knowledge of difference. 

The absolutist explains the human affections that 
bind men and women to their kith and kin as essentially 
due to the love of the atman in them. In the famous 
dialogue between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi this is 
brought out clearly. Yajnavalkya says to his wife "verily 
my dear, it is not for the love of the husband, that the 
husband is dear ; but it is for the love of the atman that 
he is dear. It is not for the love of the wife, that the 
wife is dear, but it is for the love of the atman that she 
is dear, it is not for the love of the son, that the son is 
dear, but for the love of the atman he is dear. Verily my 
dear, all things are dear to us, not as in themselves they 
are, but it is for the love of the atman that they are dear'. 1 

Dr. DEUSSEN, the celebrated German Vedanta scholar, 
said to a gathering at Bombay 'the gospels quite correctly 

i Br. Upanisad IV, 5. 



THE UPANISADS 101 

establish as the highest law of morality, the dictum * 4 love 
your neighbour as yourself".' But why do I do so? 
Because by order of nature I feel pain and pleasure only 
in myself, not in my neighbour. The answer for it, 
DEUSSEN held, is given by the Upanisads. The neighbour 
is no other than my own self. All are one and the same 
atman. The upanisads derive the doctrine of the fellow- 
ship of men from the central truth namely, the funda- 
mental oneness of all. 

What should the individual enveloped in delusion 
do in order to shake off this delusion and realise Brahman? 
Brahman realisation is not an external act. It is not 
something like the theist's moksa derived from the grace 
of a Lord. It is like coming into one's own self. In the 
words of the learned Advaitin, Vidyaranya, it is like the 
finding of a forgotten gold chain which is all the time 
round one's neck. The empirical jivas are not the atman. 
When the nescience ceases to function there is Brahman- 
realisation. Knowledge i. e., fnana is the means to it. 
The Upanisadic prayer is 'from Delusion, Darkness, and 
Death lead me to Truth, Light and Eternal life'. To 
begin with, on the intellectual side the aspirant is 
required to study the sacred scriptures under a guru 
(preceptor). 'He that has a teacher knows', says the 
Upanisad. Mere hearing (sravana) from the preceptor 
is not enough. It must be supplemented by continued 
reflection (manana). Then there is the meditation stage 
which results in realisation ( nididhyasana ). Prior to the 
study the individual is asked to cultivate the cardinal 
virtues that are essential for a moral life. The perform- 
ance of scripture-ordained duties, without violating the 
spirit of the scripture is also enjoined on the aspirant. 



102 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

These activities, Sankara holds, purify the hearts of men 
(sattva suddhi). Intense moral life is indirectly helpful 
in creating the necessary frame of mind for metaphysical 
enquiry. With such equipment man gets at the inward 
vision. This inward vision results through vairagya 
(detachment). The term 'detachment 1 must be under- 
stood in its true spirit and not in its formal sense. It is 
only negative in name. It entails the practice of all the 
virtues. It is not the giving up of all social duties. 
It preaches an ethics of self-renunciation and not world- 
renunciation. It is not the doctrine of * world negation 1 a 
phrase with which Dr. SCHWEITZER damns, the 
entire Advaita ethics. 1 

Prof. HlRIYANNA has an interesting suggestion in 
this connection. He holds that samnyasa as the fourth stage 
in the scheme of life is not of Upanisadic origin. It is 
not a stage at all. It is the transcendence of all 
asramas. It is an end in itself and not a means. 2 It is 
surmised that samnyasa as a fourth stage must have been 
a later innovation born out of the demands of the insti- 
tutional phase of religion. It is not possible to assert this 
view conclusively, because of the presence of some pas- 
sages in Upanisads that refer to formal samnyasa? 



* For an answer to Dr. SCHWEITZER see 8. RADHAKRISHNAN'S 
'Eastern Religion and Western Thought" Chap. III. For a statement 
of SCHWEITZER, see his book, Indian thought and if $ development. 

2 Outlines of Indian Philosophy by Prof. HlRlYANNA, pp. 75 to 77. 
The term 'samnyasa' does not bear in the Upanisads its present 
significance of a stage in the spiritual formal ascent of man. It thus 
means only the transcending of the triple mode of 5s>ama life, and is 
regarded as a consequence of Brahman knowledge rather than as a 
means of attaining it. 

3 See Chan. Up. II, 2, 3, 1. Br. IV, 4, 22. Jabala, 4. 



THE UPANISADS 103 

The practice of detachment in this positive sense is 
pictured well in the Upanisads ; Two birds ever united 
companions cling to the self-same tree 1 . Of these two, 
one eats the sweet berry, the other looks on without 
eating*. The bird which looks on represents the right 
type of detachment, necessary for Brahman realisation. 
With the knowledge of Brahman gained through the 
scriptures the individual meditates on Brahman. This 
meditation is called upasana. Upasana is not the ex- 
ternal ceremonial worship of the various gods con- 
ducted by the worldling, for well-being here and here- 
after. It is a worship which transforms the worshipper 
into the very object he worships. The two stages of 
upasana are : (a) concentration and (fe) sympathetic 
imagination. In the first process the mind is entirely abs- 
tracted from everything, except the object of meditation. 
In the second stage union with the object is experienced 
through sympathetic imagination. Upasana leads to that 
"shattering experience wherein the individual withdraws 
his soul from all outward events, gathers in himself to- 
gether inwardly and strives with concentration when 
there breaks upon him an experience, secret, strange and 
wondrous, which quickens within him, lays holds on him 
and becomes his very being/' It is at this stage that the 
aspirant forgets the otherness of god and feels that he is 
not a banished stranger from god. He cries aloud 'I am 
Brahman'. 1 It is in this sense the Upanisadic passage 'he 
who knows Brahman becomes Brahman 1 has to be 
understood. 



1 Prof. HIBIY ANNA'S translation of ' Brhadaranyaka* Upanisad, 
Vani Vilas Press, Introduction pp. 4, 5. 

2 Br. Upanlsad I, 4. 10. 



104 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Brahman-realisation is the true discovery of persona- 
lity. By the destruction of all that makes for difference 
the individual realises his true nature i. e., Brahman. The 
message of the Upanisads is *He who uniformly' sees all 
beings in his self and his self in all beings does not feel 
repelled therefrom. 1 One who knows that all beings 
are verily identical with his own self has no delusions, 
knows no sorrow, but comes to realise with the strength 
of his entire being the great truth of the charter of Indian 
thought, tat tvamasi. 

i Isa 6 & 7. 



CHAPTER VIII 
The Bhagavad Gita 

The Bhagavad Gita is the most popular Hindu scri- 
pture. Its importance is second to none in respect of 
Hindu philosophical doctrines. It is one of the triple 
texts (prasthanatraya) of vedanta. All the traditional 
acaryas ( Sahkara, Ramanuja and Madhva ) have com- 
mented on it. Each has striven hard to prove that the 
doctrines of their respective schools are enshrined in the 
text of the Gita. Modern Indian thinkers treat the Gita 
as the book of Hinduism. Mahatma GANDHI regards 
the Gita as the Universal mother. The Gita, within the 
compass of its seven hundred verses gives us the quint- 
essence of all the sastras and the Upanisads. Mahatmaji 
*a} T s, *I lost my mother, who gave me birth long ago; but 
this eternal mother has completely filled her place 
by my side, ever since. She has never changed, 
she has never failed me. When I am in difficulty 
or distress, I seek refuge in her bosom.* He con- 
cludes his estimate as follows : 'I can declare that the 
Gita is ever presenting me with fresh lessons; and if some- 
body tells me that it is my delusion, my reply to him 
would be, that I should hug this delusion, as my richest 
treasure 1 . The Gita inculcates in us the duty of perse- 
verance in the face of seeming failure. It teaches us that 
we have a right to action only, but not to the fruits- 
thereof, and that success and failure are one and the same 
thing at the bottom. It calls upon us to dedicate our- 



106 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

selves, body, mind and soul to pure duty, and not to 
become mental voluptuaries at the mercy of chance 
desires and undisciplined impulses 1 / 

Lokamanya TlLAK in his monumental book, 
The Gita Rahasva, points out "that in the literature of the 
whole world there is no book like the Gita. It is the 
luminous and priceless gem. It gives peace to afflicted 
souls, it makes us masters of spiritual wisdom". 

William von HUMBOLDT held the view that the 
Gita is 'the most beautiful, perhaps, the only true philoso- 
phical song existing in any known tongue 1 . Copious praise 
has been heaped on this poem. The revolutionary and 
the reactionary alike have claimed the Gita as their 
gospel. 

To what, is this popularity of the Gita due? There 
must be something in it which time cannot destroy. Its 
universal appeal lies in the fact that it is fundamentally 
a book of religion. It is a theistic scripture. It posits 
the existence of an all-loving omnipotent God as being 
moved by the distress and ignorance of men. It is the lay- 
man's scripture. It does not insist on a hard discipline 
which only a select few can practise. The demands of 
the Gita view of life are not exacting. It is within the 
reach of one and all of us. 2 

1 Mahatma GANDHI has in ail three important articles on the 
Gita. They are : Young India 12fch November, 1925, Young India 6th 
August 1931 and Address to the Benares Hindu University Students 
1934. 

2 The author of the Gita takes note of the natural and biolo- 
gical make-up of men. Thejcentral message of the Gita is the exposi- 
tion of the method ( yoga ) as to how to keep the sattva element 
predominent in men. How to hold the rajas and the tamas in check. 
The GitS gives a detailed scheme for keeping the sattva element 
predominent. 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 107 

Its popularity is due to its form as well as its 
matter. It is a chapter from the Bhisma Parva of the 
Mahabharata. The style of the poem is lucid and flow- 
ing. The dialogue form gives the whole poem a drama- 
tic setting, and the two fascinating figures add to the 
beauty of the poem. The worth of the poem is due to 
its utterance by Lord Krsna, who is an avaiara of Visnu, 

Besides these formal excellences, the message of the 
Gita has a universal appeal because it breathes the air 
of toleration. The toleration of the Gita is not born of 
ease, indulgence in errors or indifference to the issues 
involved. ' It is not the intellectual's love of moderation 
nor the high-brow's dislike of dogma. It is not the 
politician's love of compromise being all things to all 
men ; nor is it the negative freedom from antipathies. It 
is an understanding insight, full trust in the basic reality/ 
Toleration is fundamental to Hinduism. It believes in the 
democratic principle that men grow differently and 
reach theii; best differently. It does not approve the 
sentiment that one man's god is another man's devil. It 
believes in the doctrine ofadhikara (eligibility). Each has 
his own law of development. There is no use in forcing 
one to pre-conceived patterns. There is such a thing 
as the Law of Spiritual Progression and we should not 
hasten the pace of one's spiritual development nor cut it 
to shape, or beat into a pattern. Such a process is 
against the law of human beings. This fact has been 1 
amply illustrated in the Gita doctrine of svadharma. 



* l Bernard SHAW points out that in this star-crossed world, 
Fate drives us all to find our chiefest good, not in what we would, 
but in what we can. "sve sve karmanyabhiratah sathsiddhim iabhate 
narah" GIt3, XVIII, 45. 



108 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Lord Krsna says ' whoever with true devotion worships 
any Deity, in him I deepen that devotion ; and through 
it he fulfills his desire/ * Krsna asks the man of learning 
not to go and disturb the faith of one whose spiritual 
development is on a lower plane* 2 Thus the appeal of 
the GIta is felt by everyone and in every walk of life. 

Secondly its stress is eminently on life, more than on 
doctrines. Religion according to the author of the GIta 
is ethics lived. 'It is more a way of life than a view of the 
life. Religion is behaviour and not mere belief.' It helps 
us to face the concrete problems of life and instructs us 
the manner in which we should do it. It reckons with 
the facts of life. It asks us to work with the 
material available here and now. It is a guide for 
the art of living. 'Life is the gift of Nature', but beauti- 
ful living is the gift of wisdom. 1 Such wisdom as is 
necessary for the beautiful living is the gift of the GIta. 
It is concrete in its suggestions and helps us in practical 
life. The GIta has showed the metaphysical problems to 
the background and focussed its attention on the philo- 
sophy of action. The GIta does not discuss the subtleties 
of metaphysics as the Upanisads and the vedanta sutras. It 
broadly lays down certain general principles which occur 
in the Upanisads and whose significance has been deter- 
mined by the vedanta sutras. 3 A familiar verse compares 
the GIta to the nectar-like milk. The Upanisads are 
compared to the cow, and Krsna to the milk-man. Arjuna 



* Bhagavad OUa VII, 21. 

2 Bhagavad Gita VI, 26. TOLSTOI was right when he pointed 
out, " How easy it is to confuse the desire to serve God, with the 
desire to draw a congregation. " 

3 Bhagavad Gita, XVI-v-4. V-4. 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 109 

is compared to a calf drinking of the milk, Gita. 1 Further 
the colophon at the end of every chapter of the Gita 
'Bhagavad Gltasu Upanisadsu is significant. 

Though the Gita lays great stress on the need for an 
unremitting moral life, yet its prime purpose is to help 
the individual to realise the spiritual experience of the 
fellowship with the Lord. 

The Gita is not a mere humanist gospel insisting on 
the sufficiency of human welfare. Service of humanity 
can never by itself take the place of God. The good life 
is not final. It is only a stepping stone to godly life. 
Religious experience i. e., fellowship with god is the 
vision and aim of the Gita. It is not a mere humanitarian 
gospel advocating kindness to men and duty to society. 
Duty to society is no doubt enjoined on the individual 
but in serving society the individual is indirectly serving 
God 2 . God is the centre of life. All activities must be 
harnessed to that end. Isvara priti is the final purpose of 
all action. The detachment which the Gita teaches is 
not the doctrine of the stoics asking us to be fortified 
against allurements or afflictions. It is a detachment to 
the things of the world and an attachment to God. 3 The 



i Glta Mahatmya. 

3 The Gita and the VedSnta Philosophy point out that a really 
efficient moral life or a humanitarian creed is not possible ; unless the 
individual feels that these values are sustained in reality in the uni- 
verse. An unfriendly universe, a hostile environment, the short 
duration of life, and the postulate that there is nothing beyond the 
grave are not calculated to make men morally efficient. Without a 
positive faith in a moral order and a God life ceases to have mean- 
ing. 

3 " Tasmat sarvesu kslesu mam anusmara yudhya ca " 
<Glt5 VIII, 7. 



110 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Gita as Prof. D.^S. SARMA puts it, is a yoga sastra and the 
teacher of the Gita is a yogesvara and the ideal is a yogin 
and the method of attaining it is yoga. It is above all a 
religious scripture urging men to have faith in God and 
do their duty according to His behests. The entire 
Gita is treated by Mahatma GANDHI as an allegory and 
not as urging Arjuna to violence. 1 Prof. RADHA* 
KRISHNAN points out that * as the dialogue proceeds 
the dramatic element disappears. The echoes of the 
battle-field die away and we have only an inter-view 
between God and man. The chariot of war becomes 
the lonely cell of meditation and a corner of the battle- 
field where the voices of the world are stilled a fit place 
for thoughts on the supreme/ 2 

The Gita opens with a scene on the battle-field. 
Arjuna desires to have a view of all his opponents and so 
requests the divine charioteer to station his chariot in 
between the two contending armies. He was struck 
dumb by the ghastliness of the task before him. His 
limbs gave way, his mouth parched and his body trembl- 
ed. His bow slipped from his hand and he experienced 
adverse omens. He resolved that he would not fight and 
in support of his resolve trotted out a few arguments- 
common to pacifists. 

His prime objection to fight was that it involved the 
killing of his own kinsmen, teachers, and men whom he 
loved most. Killing by itself is sin and it is more heinous 
if the victims are one's own teachers and kinsmen., 



1 The purport of the Gita is not the injunction 
yudhyasva BhSrata, (ch, II, 18), but the injunction yogi bhavarjunai 
(ch. VI, v-46). 

2 8. RADHAKBISHNAN'S Indian Philosophy, Vol. 1, p. 521, 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 111 

Arjuna emphatically states that he does not desire vic- 
tory at the cost of the lives of his cousins. Like a satya- 
grahi he states that it is better for him to be killed in> 
war, unarmed and unresisting than to kill his own kith 
and kin. Further Arjuna pleads that the chances of vic- 
tory are uncertain and are not helpful in urging him on 
to action. 

As against all his words Lord Krsna points out that 
the arguments of Arjuna are apparently ethical. A funda- 
mental examination as the one that the Gita undertakes- 
dissolves all the doubts of Arjuna. The doubts of Arjuna 
are due to his uncritical acceptance of the things of the 
world. Krsna argues that Arjuna's grief does not hold, 
water at all. If Arjuna laments over the loss of his kins- 
men, it is wrong to do so. The souls do not die. Death 
is only for the body. They have neither birth nor death. 
They exist for all times. They are eternal. It is the 
body that perishes and not the soul. * Weapons cannot 
cleave the soul, fire does not burn him, water does not 
make him wet, wind does not dry him/ l Hence on the 
ground of the indestructibility of the soul, Krsna points 
out that Arjuna's grief is meaningless. As for the des- 
truction of the body it is its law. Being a compound of 
different elements, it is bound to decay. It is just like 
an instrument which goes out of order, after a specific 
period of time. Change of bodies is no more thaa 
change of clothes. 2 So, on that count Arjuna's grief 
makes no sense. 

Arjuna is exhorted to fight the battle and not shirk 
his responsibilities. In waging the war Arjuna is only 



, chap. II, v. 24. 
IWd.n,v. 22. 



112 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

discharging the duties pertaining to his caste. If in the 
discharge of one's sva-dharma, sin accrues ( as in the case 
of Arjuna ), it does not bind or taint the soul of the doer 
with demerit ( papa ). It is not the act or consequence 
that is to be judged, but the motive. Arjuna is further 
told that the non-discharge of his duties would entail 
demerit as well as infamy. People would call into ques- 
tion even his military valour. 

Arjuna is exhorted to discharge his duty however 
unpleasant, on the ground that salvation for an individual 
consists in treading one's path, sva-dharma. The philo- 
sophy of activism that the Gita preaches is not the me- 
chanical performance of any act. The Gita says, l what 
is work and what is not work even the wise are 
perplexed. 1 ' It is the insistence of the performance of 
one's own duties prescribed by his station, in Prof. 
BRADLEY'S phrase 'my station, and my duty' that is the 
fundamental message of the Gita. 

It is wrong to think that Arjuna was in any sense a 
genuine non-violent Gandhian. He was overcome by 
self-pity at the sight and the prospect of the death of his 
kinsmen in battle at his own hands. The sense that 
the war before him was a domestic war between the 
members of a same family depressed him. It is the fact 
of the sheer physical repulsion that led to Arjuna's fall 
from the roll of a courageous fighter to that of a man of 
compassion. The revolt of his ignorant and unregenerate 
emotions is cloaked by his words of apparent rationality. 
Krsna pointed out that wisdom and true knowledge lend 
no support to his grief. 



, m, v. 16. 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 113 

In the history of Hitidu thought 'two paths to per- 
fection are laid out. They are the nivrtti marga and the 
pravrtti marga. The ideal of nivrtti advocates the giving 
up of all karma and withdrawing from the work-a-day 
world. This is the negative ideal of renunciation. 
According to Sahkara, the Gita teaching has for its final 
purport renunciation. Moksa can be realised only by 
jnana, and not by any other method, ridnyah panthafi. So 
the path of action at best can produce only further 
bondage, and bondage has the tendency to envelop the 
soul. Besides, moksa according to Sahkara, is not some- 
thing to be produced, it is already there. So at best 
karma i. e., the path of active life can lead to atma suddhi 
cleansing of the heart and not directly to moksa. There 
are no two direct paths to moksa. The pravrtti and 
the nivrtti margas are not discontinuous. One leads on to 
the other. Further Sahkara explains the emphasis of the 
Gita on karma in the light of Arjuna's eligibility for it . 
Arjuna needs the cleansing of the atman ; he is an unen- 
lightened soul and as such he is only fit for karma yoga. 
Wherever the Gita speaks of karma yoga in extravagant 
terms, it has to be understood in terms of the response to 
Arjuna's needs. It is in this light that all the Gita verses 
in praise of karma are interpreted by Sahkara. He 
makes the path of works subservient to the path of 
renunciation. l 

With acute insight and massive erudition, and rare 
persuasive skill B. G. TILAK in his Gita rahasya makes 
out a brilliant case for the philosophy of action. Taking 
the texts by and large, one gets the impression that the 



i Dr. T. M. P. MAHADE VAN'S article 'The twofold path in the 
Olta\ Philosophical Quarterly, January 1941. 
8 



114 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Glta insists on the performance of action in a devout 
frame of mind* l 

Let us examine what the karma yoga of the Glta is* 
It combines the excellences of the pravrtti and the 
nivrtti mar gas. It insists on the discharge of the social 
duties arising out of the station one occupies in life. Its 
stress is on a charter of duties and not a bill of rights. 
It never countenances dereliction from action, and con- 
demns such lapses in unmitigated terms. The Gita says 
'no man can ever be free from a life of action by merely 
avoiding active work ; and no man can ever reach per- 
fection through mere renunciation/ 2 For no man can 
sit still even for a moment, but does some work. Every- 
one is driven to act, in spite of himself by the impulses 
of nature. 3 It is indeed impossible for any embodied be- 
ing to abstain from work absolutely. 4 

Thus Lord Krsna after making out a case for the 
impossibility of inaction goes on to describe the mental 
attitude with which one has to act. Act we must, and 
there is no escape from action. 5 We are exhorted to 
renounce the fruit of the activity together with the sense 
of egoity. It is not action that is binding us, but the 
sense of attachment to the fruits of the action and the 
sense of agency. Every one of our activities must be 
construed as an offering at the feet of God. The karma 



1 B. G. TlLAK's Glta Rahasya, Vol. I and author's article on the 
'Message of the Gita'-Journal of Oriental Research Vol. XIV, Part II., 

a Bhagavad Glta, Chap. III~v, 4. III-v. 5. 

3 Ibid. Chap, 

* Ibid. Chap. XVIII-v. 11. 

See TAGORE'S Sadhana. p. 78. " True freedom is not freedom 
from action, but freedom in action, which can only be attained fo 
the work of love. " 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 115 

yoga of the Gita has hit the golden mean between the two 
ideals of pravrtti and nivrtti preserving the excellences of 
both the paths. While it does not abandon activity, it 
preserves the spirit of renunciation, 'work alone art thou 
entitled to, and not its fruits. ' So never work for fruit, 
nor yet desist from work. 1 'Know that what they call 
renunciation is the same as yoga. O ! Arjuna, for no one 
who has not renounced his desires can ever become a 
yogin/ 2 The Gita takes every opportunity to point out that 
renunciation of any duty is not right. The abandonment 
of duty through ignorance is declared to be in the nature 
of tamasic souls. 3 *Works of sacrifice, gifts and penance 
should not be renounced but should be performed. For 
sacrifice, gifts and penance purify the mind ; these are 
works that should be done, is my decided and final view', 
says Krsna. 4 But he who gives up the fruit of work, is 
regarded as one who has renounced. The renunciation 
of the fruits of action and not action as such is the 
pith of the Gita teaching. Such an action is tantamount 
to inaction. Hence the paradoxical verse in the Gita, 4 He 
who sees no work, in work, and work in inaction, he is 
wise among men, he is a yogin, and he has accomplished 
all his work/ 5 

III 

Terms like yajna ( sacrifice ), karma ( action ), jnana 
( knowledge ), samnyasa ( renunciation ) etc., are inter- 
preted afresh by the Gita. Yajna in the Gita does not mean 
animal sacrifice, nor the sacrifice of material objects but 

i Bhagavad Gita Chap. II v. 47. a Ibid. VI v. 2. 
a Ibid. XVIII v. 7. * Ibid. II vv, 5 & 6. 

* Gita IV v. 18. 



116 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

all activities prompted by a spirit of human service. 
Karma does not mean mere mechanical action done for 
the achievement of some objects here, or hereafter, but 
action performed without the desire for the fruits. The 
jnana of the Gita is not the intellectually mediated know- 
ledge that does not result in spiritual realisation, but it is 
the immediate intuition which results in the spiritual 
experience of the fellow-ship with Lord, The samnyasa 
of the Gita is not the giving up of all activities as such 
and retiring from society. It is the giving up of the 
desire for the fruits and the sense of agency in actions. 
It is phala samnyasa and not karma samnyasa. 1 

The Lord of the Gita is fundamentally the supreme 
person, Purusottama. He is the abode of infinite number 
of auspicious attributes. His law is the law of love. 
Every action of the spiritual aspirant must be motivated 
to secure the pleasure of the Lord ( Isvara prlti ). The 
Lord says, * fly unto me for shelter.' In another place 
He says, 'Fix the mind on me, be devoted to me, pros- 
trate thyself before me. So shalt thou come to me. I 
promise this truly for thou art dear to me.' 2 



1 For a development of this view refer to Prof. D. S. SARMA'a 
Introduction to the Qita pp. 35 1 o 46. 

See aitanjali, V 73. 

Deliverance is not for me in renunciation. I feel the embrace of 
freedom in a thousand bonds of delight. 

Thou ever Pourest for me the fresh draughts of thy wine of 
various colours and fragrance filling this earthen vessel to the brim, 
My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame and 
place them before the altar of thy temple. 

No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. 

The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight 

Yes, all my illusions will be born into illumination of joy, and all 
desires ripen into fruits of love. 

2 Qita, Chap. IX v. 34. See GItanjali, v, 36. 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 117 

The author of the GIta has no patience with men 
who merely believe in a world that is governed by action 
and reaction. He denounces the men who profess 
that 'this world is all that we see and all that is'. The 
talk of the impenitent rationalists is characterised as 
'puspitam vacarn (men who reel out florid texts). 2 These 
fools declare in the words of the Lord 'there is nothing 
else but this; the world is false and is without a moral 
basis and without a god, what is there that does not 
spring from mutual union? Lust is the cause of all.' 
'Holding such views these souls commit cruel deeds, 
come forth as enemies for the destruction of the world. 
They give themselves up to insatiable desires, full of 
hypocrisy, pride and arrogance, they hold false views 
through delusion and act with impure resolves.* 3 

The author of the GIta does not spare the literalists 
and materialists. The indiscriminate life of self indul- 
gence sanctioned by the Hedonist is severely criticised. 
The GIta stands for a careful cultivation of tastes and a 
controlled satisfaction of desires. 

No appetite must be cheated and none over-fed. It 
condemns a life of asceticism. It stands for the training 



1 The impenitent scientist giddy ^ith the success attained 
over material things displaces God by his egotism. GIta XVI, 14. 
Man, proud man Dress'd in a little brief authority. Most ignorant of 
what he is most assured. His glassy essence, like an angry ape, 
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven, as makes the angels 
weep ; Measure for Measure. Act II, See. II. 

2 The Rationalist Prophet Montaigne observes " My reason is 
not framed to bend or stoop, my knees are." 

3 Bhagavad Glta, Chap. XVII, vv. 8 to 19. 

The Gita is opposed to the attitude : " I am the master of Balliol 
College, What I don't know is not knowledge . " 



118 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

of instincts and not their thwarting. A harmonious 
integration of all the impulses is the call of the scripture, 
not the development of this or that aspect of life at the 
expense of the other. 1 

The Glta idea of dharma is not one of mere altruism, 
It rejects the mere efficient performance of rituals quite 
as much as it rejects a vague and indisciplined allegiance 
to God, as both inadequate in themselves. It bridges the 
gulf between Ritualism and Humanitarianism. It lays 
equal stress on faith and good works. Faith without 
active moral life is as vacuous and inadequate as a lofty 
moral idealism without faith in God. Faith in God 
should be the informing principle of all moral activity. 
The Glta is not therefore a mere compendium of ethical 
precepts, but primarily a religious scripture, the central 
emphasis of which is on a loving Father of Mankind who 
is the goal of human aspiration. The morality of the 
Gita is ultimately and intimately rooted in spirituality. 2 



1 See Lord Chesterfield's letter. " The sure characteristic of a 
strong and sound mind is to find in everything those certain bounds. 
These boundaries are marked out by a very fine line which only 
good sense and attention can discover, it is too much for vulgar 
eyes. In manners this line is good breeding, beyond it, is trouble- 
some ceremony, short of it is unbecoming negligence and inattention. 
In morals it divides ostentatious Puritanism from criminal relaxation, 
in religion, superstition from impiety, and in short every virtue from 
its kindred vice and weakness ". 

See Olta t CHAP. VI, 16 and 17. 

2 See: S. KADHAKRISHN^N'S essay in The Cultural Problem 
(Oxford Pamphlets on Indian affairs ) No. I, p. 50. 

" Dharma is not an unchanging moral code written for all times. 
It is an elastic tissue which clothes the growing body. If it is too tight 
it will give way and we shall have lawlessness, anarchy and revolu- 
tion ; if it is too loose it will trip us up and impede our movements. " 
For a detailed discussion of the Hindu moral ideal See : P. S. Siva- 
swami IYER'S Kamala Lectures on "The Evolution of Hindu moral 
Ideals " and Dr. MEES'a Dharma and Society. 



THE BHAGAVAD GITA 119 

The moral teaching of the Gita is not a static com- 
pound of prescriptions ready made for defined eventua- 
lities. It is a dynamic and a living call to every man to 
live always in the fear of the Lord and to order his life 
in accordance with his duty to himself and to society. 1 
It is rigid neither in regard to time nor in regard to 
circumstances. The kingdom of Heaven is not concieved 
by the Gita as a realm of pure mystical experience un- 
connected with concrete human relationships. It is not 
an unearthly conceptual realm but a just and a happy 
social order. 

The message of the Gita is universal, whatever may 
have been its origins. 'Its language, structure and 
the combination of balancing ideas, belong neither to the 
temper of the sectarian teacher, nor the spirit of a rigorous 
dogmatist. It is an undulating encircling movement of 
ideas, which is the manifestation of a vast synthetic mind. 
It is the richest synthesis of Indian culture, and not a 
weapon for dialectical warfare as the polemist comment- 
ators have made it out It is a gate opening on the whole 
world of spiritual truth and experience and the view it 
gives us embraces all the provinces of the supreme region. 
It maps out, but does not cut out hedges to confine our 
vision.' 



1 See author's article on the ' Religion of the Gita ' Journal of 
Madras University^ Vol. XI, No. 2. 

* Sri AUROBINDO, Essays on the Gita, Vol. I, p. 10. 



CHAPTER IX 
The Vedanta-Sutras 

The Vedanta-sutras of Badarayana constitute one of 
the triple texts ( prasthanatraya ) of all the schools of 
vedanta. The sutra literature is a very ancient literary 
mode and it is common to all the systems of philosophy 
in India. Its function is to reduce to the form of aphor- 
isms and to present in a precise manner, the philosophical 
tenets of a system found scattered in a number of works. 
The sutras are terse to the point of unintelligibility* 
They are concise to an excess. This gnomic nature of 
the sutras renders them ununderstandable except with the 
aid of clear and elaborate commentaries. This has led to 
the writing of commentaries, subcommentaries and 
independent studies of the particular topics of a system 
( prakaranas ). 

It is laid down that the composition of the sutras 
should satisfy a number of requirements. 1 First among 
them is that the sutras must use short words with few 
letters. The words must be clear and unambiguous. 
They must be full of significance. The principles of 
interpretation forged by the sutras must be comprehen- 
sive and not have a narrow or limited field of application. 
Meaningless syllables used in vedic verses to satisfy 
the metrical requirements must be avoided in the sutras. 
In short, they should not suffer from any defect, formal 
or material. 



1 AlpSksaram asandigdham sSravat, visvatomukham astobhyam 
anavadyara ca sntram sutravido viduh, 



THE VEDANTA-SUTRAS 121 

The vedanta sutras of Badarayana are called by 
different names, Brahma sutras, Sciriraka sutras, Uttara 
Mimamsa sutras etc- Badarayana is identified by the 
theistic schools of vedanta with one of the incarnations 
of Lord Visnu i. e., the sage Vyasa the celebrated author 
of the Mahabharata and the eighteen puranas. Others 
identify him as one of the rsis of ancient India. The 
vedanta sutras are five hundred and thirty-five in 
number according to the calculation of Sahkara. 
Madhva holds the view that the number is five hundred 
and sixty-four. The vedanta sutras mark the second 
stage in the development of vedantic thought. The first 
stage is the intuition of the Upanisadic seers set forth in 
the Upanisads. The conflicting statements of the various- 
texts of the Upanisads are properly adjudged and unified 
in the vedanta sutras. This is the second stage i. e., the 
stage of systematisation. The co-ordination of the 
several passages is effected through the subordination 
of them under a passage of primary importance. Hence- 
it is called a nirnayaka sdstra. 

The third stage in the development of vedantic 
thought is the writing of commentaries on the sutras by 
the different system builders. The sutras have been 
commented on by different acaryas. Prominent among 
the commentaries are those of Sahkara, Bhaskara, Yadava- 
prakasa, Ramanuja, Kesava, Nilakantha, Madhva, Bala- 
deva, Vallabha, Vijnanabhiksu etc. The oldest of the 
commentaries is that of Sahkara. Its antiquity, its powers 
of argumentation, its metaphysical acumen and literary 
grace have all given it an unique status among 
the commentaries. It is at once a philosophical classic 
andt a piece of great literature. The commentaries of 



122 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Ramanuja and Madhva interpret the sutras in a theistic 
light. The commentary of Madhva effects the textual 
synthesis in a masterly manner. His commentary has 
none of the literary grace of Sahkara. It is irritatingly 
brief* In support of his position he quotes passages 
copiously from the vedas and puranas. In fact there are 
very few sentences of his own in Madhva's commentary. 
The cogent array of quotations from the vast field of 
purana literature is an index of his sense of loyalty to the 
sruti. Ramanuja's commentary is argumentative and is 
hard reading. He gives us ample evidence of his logical 
skill. He points out that his commentary is not all his 
own and that in its main outline it is the resuscitation 
of a lost tradition. Such humility is evident throughout 
in his writings. Madhva asserts that his interpretation is 
infallible on the ground that the Lord himself, the very 
composer of the sutras, Vyasa, taught him its mean ; ng 
and approved of his commentary. Two distinct trends 
of interpretation of the sutras are clearly discernible, the 
absolutistic interpretation and the theistic interpretation. 
The former is represented by Sahkara and the latter by 
Ramanuja and Madhva. 



II 



The vedanta sutras are divided into four chapters. The 
first deals with the harmonisation of the purport of the 
different vedic and secular words in respect of Brahman. 
i. e. the Samanvaya adhyaya. The second chapter refutes 
the srutis and other pramanas that contradict the central 
purport of vedanta and examines the arguments of 
the different systems that are opposed to vedanta 



THE VEDANTA-SUTRAS 123 

avirodha adhyaya. The third chapter relates to the way 
of attaining Brahman, hence it is called sadhana adhyaya. 
The fourth deals about the nature of bliss i, e,, Brahman- 
realisation, hence it is called phala adhyaya. The sutras 
in each chapter are classified into adhikaranas. Every 
topic is termed an adhikarana. Some contain one sutra, 
others as many as ten. Each adhikarana refers to a parti- 
cular scriptural passage which is called in technical 
parlance visaya-vakya. 

Some modern scholars are of opinion that Badarayana 
was one of the many systematisers of vedanta. Badarayana 
himself mentions the names of Badari Kasakrtsna, 
Asmarathya, Audulorai, Jaimini etc. These seers differ 
among themselves on many important points. The 
nature of the released soul is described by Audulomi as 
characterised by thought (caitanya) and Jaimini holds 
the view that a number of other attributes too chara- 
cterise the liberated soul. Badarayana admits both the 
positions. 1 With reference to the^attainment of Brahman, 
Jaimini holds the view that the individual who worships 
the Lower Brahman does not attain the Higher nirguna 
Brahman. The sage Badari takes exception to this view. 
Sahkara agrees with Badari. 2 In the determination of the 
relation between Brahman and the individual soul, sage 
Asmarathya is of opinion that as between Brahman and 
the individual soul identity-in-difference (bhedabheda) 
persists. Autjulomi is of opinion that the individual soul 
is different from Brahman till the time of release. Sage 



VedSnta sStras, Chap. IV f pada i Sfftras 5-7. 
Ibid. Chap. IV. pada iii Sutra 7-14. 



124 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

Kasakrtsna affirms the relation of identity between them* 1 
These facts point out that there were others differing 
from Badarayana on many topics even while he composed 
the sutras. It is interesting to note here that 
Madhva in his commentary reconciles all the views that 
are opposed to Badarayana's stand-point. The different 
views expressed are treated as particular aspects of the 
large view of Vyasa. 

Ill 

The first four sutras of Badarayana give us in brief 
the outlines of the vedanta philosophy. In the first sutra 
the spiritual aspirant is exhorted to inquire into the 
nature of Brahman. Brahman is defined in the second 
sutra as the originator, sustainer, destroyer, etc., of the 
Universe. The third sutra states that scripture is the 
pramana in respect of the knowledge of Brahman. The 
fourth points out that all the terms in the scripture 
signify Brahman. 

Before commenting straight on the first sutra 
Sahkara gives us a short prolegomena to metaphysics, in 
his famous adhyasa bhasya, which is an introduction to 
the vedanta sutras in general and to the first sutra in 
particular. According to Sahkara there is only one 
reality, which is Knowledge, Bliss, and Infinitude. 
Besides this Reality there is nothing real. The real and 
Brahman are one and the same. There is nothing besides 
it with which to describe it. Hence the impossibility in 
describing Brahman. 

If Brahman is all that is Real, how is it that we see 
a world of plurality in its place. It is to_explain this 

i Ibid. Chap. i. pada. iv, sutra, 20-22. 



THE VEDANTA-SUTRAS 125 

mystery that Sahkara wrote his adhyasa bhasya. We 
human beings have a natural tendency to identify the 
inert with self and the self with the inert, e. g., the 
usage ' this is my house ' etc. bears out this truth. We 
identify the anatman with the atman and the atman with 
the anatman. This reciprocal superimposition ( maya ) 
sustains the world of plurality. This faculty or super- 
imposition is called avidya, i. e. ( nescience ). It is begin- 
ningless, positive, and is attached to the individual soul 
This faculty is responsible for the principle of individua- 
tion. This nescience supresses Brahman and projects in 
its place the world of plurality. This is explained on 
the famous analogy of the individual delusively cognising 
the rope as the snake in twilight. The rope did not get 
transformed into the snake, it only appeared so. Like- 
wise Brahman appears as it were, many ( vivarta and 
not parinama ) and does not really get transformed into 
the many. The world of plurality persists as long as 
nescience is there. The individual thinks that he is 
one of the many, suffering untold miseries. This is due to 
the functioning of nescience. Nescience can be removed 
only by knowledge, and the knowledge must be of that 
which is destructive of nescience. Hence the necessity 
to know Brahman, the only real. So the sutrakara 
exhorts the spiritual aspirant to inquire into Brahman, 
after systematic ethical discipline. Brahman knowledge 
will help us to destroy the nescience and realise that the 
individual ego is no other than Brahman when freed from 
its limitations. 

If Brahman is to be known, he can only be known 
through his attributes. The second sutra defines Brah- 
fiian as the originator, sustainer and destroyer of this uni- 



126 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 

verse. This description apparently contradicts Sahkara's 
metaphysical position. Sahkara treats this account of 
the Sutrakara as a description per -accidence. Hence Bra- 
hman is not in any literal sense the actual creator of the 
world. He is said to be the abhinna nimitta upadana. 
harana of the universe. 

Nescience has to be destroyed through Brahman 
experience. Scripture is the ultimate authority in respect 
of Brahman, The third sutra states that Brahman is the 
cause of the sacred scripture. Such great wisdom as the 
vedas contain could not have originated from any indi- 
vidual who is not omniscient. This sutra is interpreted 
in another way. The scriptures are the pramanas through 
which we have mediate cognition of Brahman. 

The fourth sutra effects an harmonisation of all vedic 
terms with Brahman. 

IV 

The theistic schools interpret the vedanta sutras in 
an entirely different manner from that of Sahkara. The 
God of the sutras is not an indeterminate entity that 
cannot be described in terms of any attribute. He is a 
suprapersonal being endowed with infinite powers and 
omniscience. He is referred to in the second sutra as the 
creator and sustainer of this Universe. The world of plura- 
lity is not conceived by the theists as an illusory pheno- 
menon or on the same level as dream experience. A real 
and an omnipotent God cannot by his very nature have 
created an illusory world. If the world of plurality is art 
illusory manifestation of the Lord, He is no better than 
a juggler who draws rabbits from his hat. The philoso- 
phical position that the world of reality is an illusory. 



THE VEDANTA SUTRAS 12? 

manifestation militates against the omnipotence of the 
Lord. 

The theist criticises the view that the Lord described 
in the scriptures is not Brahman but the limited aspect 
of Brahman i. e. the personal God Isvara. Isvara 
in advaita parlance is called Saguna Brahman and the 
indeterminable secondless reality is called Para Brahman. 
The Advaitin holds that all the attributes that speak of 
Brahman as creator, sustainer etc, of this Universe refer 
to the saguna Brahman, According to some such an inter- 
pretation makes the august work of the sutrakara a 
juvenile production. It is impossible to conceive that the 
sutras should open with an imperative order asking the 
spiritual aspirant to enquire into the Para Brahman, and 
define in the very second sutra the Saguna Brahman . The 
Advaitin's contention that Brahman is indeterminable in 
terms of any word results in the futility of the sastras. 
If it be contended that the sastras signify the Lord in 
a secondary sense (Laksanavrtti), the theist replies that 
it is impossible to imagine a secondary signification of a 
thing that cannot be described in terms of any word. In so 
far as no description of Brahman is given by the Advaitin 
it is equated with the sunya of the Buddhist. 1 

The theists criticise Sahkara's doctrine ofmaya and 
point out that the author of the sutra does not intend it 
at all. It is stated in the sutra Jagadvyapara varjyam 
certain functions like the creation of the cosmos are 
denied to the released soul. They are said to be the 
inalienable functions of the Lord distinguishing Him 
from the souls. Further the description of the world as 
something other than the real and the unreal is said ta 



Vedanta sutra IV, 4, 17. 



128 THE SCHOOLS OF VEDA NT A 

violate the sound canons of logic. A thing is either real 
or unreal. There is no middle ground between the real 
and the unreal. Sankara's introduction to his commentafry 
on the vedanta sutras is criticised as not being in tune 
with the sutras. The concept of moksa explained in the 
sutras does not admit of the identity of the individual 
soul with Brahman. The theists hold the view that 
anybody who reads Sahkara's commentary with open 
eyes, will see the liberties he has taken with sutras, and 
the occasions on which he throws them overboard or 
tells us in parenthesis not to take them too seriously. 

The theists contend that the sutras are not in favour 
of the final merging of the individual in Brahman. Most 
of the sutras speak of the difference of the Lord from 
Brahman. They have all been mostly interpreted by 
Sankara as having difference for their purport. There 
is the significant sutra 2 in which Brahman is declared 
to be the one approached by all the released. The general 
impression left by the sutras is that they are theistic to 
the core. All the difficulties felt by the different acaryas 
in their task of interpreting and reconciling the different 
passages arise out of an attempt to build logical systems 
of thought. No system can effect a harmony between 
all the passages of the Upanisads which are the expres. 
sions of the religious experience of different seers at 
different levels. 



Ibid * muktopasrpyavyapadesat ' 1, 3, 2. 



INDEX 



Acton (Lord), 6. 
Advaita, see Vedanta, 
Agnostics, 60. 
Alexander, 17. 
A/vars, 69, 70. 
Anti-social ends, 2. 
Aristotle, 12. 
Arjuna, 79, 108-112, 115. 
Atmari, 58, 100,101,125. 
Atoms, 2, 13, 14, 60. 
Aurobindo, 22. 

B 

Badarayana, 120, 121, 123, 124. 

Badness, 2. 

Beauty, 7, 10,_12, 18, 61. 

Bhagavad Glta, see Gita". 

Bhakti, 57, 79, 89. 

Bhedojjlvana, 83. 

Biology, 3. 

Birth, 18. 

Bradley, F. H., 16, 50. 

Brahman, 14, 23, 29, 30-33, 35, 36, 
38, 41-43, 46-49, 51, 53-54, 56, 
58, 72-75, 86,88, 95, 97-104, 
122-128. 

BrShmanas, 27, 29, 30. 

Brailslord, H. N., 63. 

BrhadSranyaka, 28,46,74. 

Buddhism, 15, 16, 31, 32. 



Clairvoyance, 26. 
Class-relationship, 5. 
Collingwood, R. G., 17. 
Communism, 61. 



Darsanas, 15. 

Davids, Mrs. Rhys, 31. 

Dayananda, 21. 

Death, 18. 

Death, See also Birth, Life. 

Descartes, 56. 

Detachment, 19, 20, 52. 

Deussen, 100, 101. 

Dewey, J., 4. 

Dharma, 118. 

Dharmabhuta jnana, 71, 75, 76 

Dialectical Materialism, 60. 

Dickinson, G. L,, 22. 

Dvaita, 82-87. 



Eddington, A., 13, 59. 
Einstein, 59. 
Emerson, 27. 
Emotions, 4. 
Error, 84. 
Ethics, 21. 
Evil, 4, 73. 
Experience, Spiritual, 68. 



Causation, 8. 

Cause and effect, 34, 35. 

Cells, 2. 

ChSndogya Upanisad, 28, 100, 

Christianity, 12. 

Civilization, 2, 4, 7, 10. 

17 



Fascists, 64. 
Freedom, 3. 



Galsworthy, J., 6, 7. 

Gandhi, M. K., 21, 31, 78, 105, 110. 



130 



THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 



a, 28, 29. 
GU5, SO, 21, 27, 70, 78, 79, 105-119. 
God, 10, 20, 21, 24-20, 37, 45, 46, 64, 

67, 69, 73-76, 79-81, 89, 95, 

109, 110, 126, 127. 
Goodness, 2, 7, 10-12, 18, 20, 61. 

H 



Karma, 22, 23, 29, 30, 77, 78, 80, 81, 

113, 114, 116. 
Knowledge, 4-6, 23, 32, 35, 39, 40, 

53, 71, 84. 

Knowledge, Theory of, 22, 24, 
Krsi^a (Lord), 45, 79, 107, 108, 

111, 112, 114. 



Happiness, 12. 
Hartmann, N., 7, 27. 
Heaven, 22 119. 
Heaven, see also Hell. 
Hedonism, 11. 
Hegel, 16. 
Hell, 23. 
Hinduism, 107. 
Hindus, 23. 

Hiriyanna, 38, 73, 102. 
Hitler, 64. 
Hogben, L., 3, 17. 
Humanists, Scientific, 61. 
Humanity, 70, 
Huxley, A., 12, 37, 52. 



I 



Idealism, 26. 

Indian philosophy, See Philoso- 

phy, Indian. 
Intelligence, 4. 

J 

Jaimini, 26. 

Jaimini, See also Mimamsa. 

Jayatirtha, 83. 

Jeans, 59. 

Jesus, 77. 

Jnana, 7, 30, 57, 89. 

Joad, C. E. M., 9. 



Kant, 52. 



K 



, 75. 



Laksmi, 86. 

Laws, Scientific, 3. 

Liberation, 19, 

Liberation, See also Salvation. 

Life, 1, 4, 17-19, 60, 68. 

M 

Machine civilization, 2. 

Madhusudana, 45, 

Madhva, 14, 82, 83, 85, 87, 88, 

121, 122. 

Mahabharata, 107. 
Maitreyi, 100. 

Man, 16-17, 19, 26, 65, 67, 81, 93. 
M and ana, 28, 48,49. 
Mandukya Upanisad, 29. 
Mantras, 27, 
Marx, K., 60, 62, 
Materialists, 60. 
Mathematics, 59. 
Matter, 3, 24, 25, 29, 74, 75. 
Maya, 12, 23, 36, 38, 43, 45, 46, 67, 

72,87,99. 
McTaggart, 17. 
Meditation, 53. 
Metaphysics, 18, 72. 
Mill, J. S., 11, 12. 
MTmamsS, 15, 21, 26, 29, 30. 
Mind, 8, 9, 14. 
Mind, Temper of, 2. 
Moksa, 13, 21, 23, 51, 52, 80, 90, 

94, 96. 

Monism, 82. 
Moore, George, 27. 
Morality, 3, 66. 



INDEX 



131 



Mortality, 60, 
Mukti, 78. 

Muller, Max, 16, 73, 92. 
Mussolini, 64. 
Mysticism, 53. 

N 

Naturalists, 60. 
Nature, 60. 
Nazis, 64, 
Newman, 17. 
Nietzsche, 27, 52. 
Nyaya, 15, 23, 24, 33, 74. 
Nyayamrta, 83. 
Nyayasudha, 83. 



Parinamavada, See Transform- 
ation. 

Patanjali, 19, 25. 

Philosophers, European, 7. 

Philosophical thought, 1. 

Philosophy, 1, 18, 73. 

Philosophy and Science, See 
Science-Philosophy. 

Philosophy, Indian, 15-17, 21, 23, 
27, 29, 91. 

Physics, 3, 13, 59. 

Plato, 9, 66. 

Poetry, 67. 

Poverty, 4. 

Power, 6. 

Pramanas, 24, 48, 49, 71, 85. 

Probability, 2. 

Prophet, The, 63. 

Purusa, see Soul. 

Purusottama, 116. 



Radhakrishnan, S,, 8, 15, 21, 27, 31, 

42, 99, 110. 

Ra"ma"nuja, 13, 14, 69-79, 122. 
Rationalism, 4. 



Realisation, 54, 55,68. 

Realism, 72, 84. 

Reality, 2, 5, 8, 9, 18, 20, 24, 30-32, 

36, 41, 46-48, 52, 56, 59, 60, 61, 

65, 74, 76, 77, 98 99. 
Reason, 33. 
Religion, 4, 19, 53, 60, 62, 63, 67, 

108. 

Religion and Science, 59, 60. 
Renunciation, 20, 
Revolution, 5. 
Russell, B, 1, 5, 6, 62. 
Russell, G. W., 27. 
Rutherford (Lord), 5. 



Sahara, 83. 

Salvation, 18, 21, 29, 55, 70, 77, 
88-89. 

Samsara 94. 

Sankara, 14, 23, 27-30, 34, 36, 43, 

44, 46, 52, 55-56, 67, 70, 83, 
, 92, 97-99, 102, 113, 121-128. 

Safikaradvaita, See Vedanta. 

Sankhya, 15, 21, 2,5, 29. 

Sarma, D. S., 110. 

Sastri, S. S., 42. 

Sceptics, 60. 

Schopenhauer, 27, 91, 92. 

Schweitzer, 102. 

Science, 1, 6, 13, 61. 

Science, Claims of, 5, 6. 

Science, Limitation of, 1, 9, 65. 

Science Philosophy, 59, 60. 

Scientific humanists, See Human- 
ists, Scientific. 

Sins, 80. 

Social order, 4. 

Society, 1. 

Solipsism, 10. 

Soul, 17, 21, 23-25, 73-75, 78, 81, 
90, 97, 100. 

Space, 77. 

Sri Bhasya, 70. 

Stalin, 64. 

Streit, 0, K 62. 

Sudarsana Snri, 70. 



132 



THE SCHOOLS OF VEDANTA 



Svetaketu, 100. 
Swift, J., 64, 



Tagore, R., 21. 
Tarktitfindavn, 84. 
Tawuey,*K, IL, 61. 
Teleology, 9. 
Telepathy, 26. 
Tikacarya, see Jayatlrtha. 
tfiiafc, B. G., 106, 113, 
Time, 77, 
Tradition, 4, 
Transformations, 29. 
Truth, 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 16-18, 26, 31, 
35,56,60,61,71,81 



Values, See also Truth, Beauty, 

Goodness. 
VSyu, 82, 86. 
Vedanta, 12, 14, 16, 21, 23, 27, 31, 

69, 91. 

Vedanta Desika, 70. 
Vedanta Sutras, 120-122. 
Vedas, 29, JO, 71, 85, 86. 
Venkatanatha, See VedSnta 

Desika. 
VibhTsana, 80. 
VidySranya, 101. 
Violence, 61. 
Visistadvaita, 69, 70, 74. 
Visnu (Lord), 70. 
Vivekananda (Swami), 31. 
Von Humboldt, William, 106, 
Vyasaraja, 83. 



U 



w 



UddSlaka, 100. 

Universe, 2, 3, 16, 22, 26, 33, 48, 

60, 87. 
Upanisads, 27-30, 35, 43, 49, 

91 1 99, 103, 104, 108, 121, 128. 



Wells, H. G., 2. 

Whitehead, A. N.. 9, 13, 14, 17. 
Whitman, W,, 27. 
Wisdom, 7. 

Wordsworth, W,, 11, 70. 
World's troubles, 4. 



Vsteaspati, 83. 

Vairagya, 102, 

VairSgya, See also Detachment, 

VaiSesika, 15, 21, 23, 24, 25. 

Values, 2, 3, 8-14, 17, 60, 61, 63, 65. 



Yjnavalkya, 100. 

Yeats, W. B., 27. 

Yoga, 19, 25, 26. 

Yoga, see also Clairvoyance.